Bottas on pole for Silverstone GP ahead of teammate Hamilton

SILVERSTONE, England (AP) — Valtteri Bottas edged out Mercedes teammate and championship leader Lewis Hamilton to claim pole position Saturday for Formula One’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.

Hamilton appeared on course to take his 92nd career pole but he had a poor first sector on his final run and Bottas clocked 1 minute, 25.154 seconds, 0.063 seconds ahead of the six-time world champion.

It gave Bottas his first pole since the opening race of the pandemic-delayed season in Austria, which he went on to win.

Hamilton won the next three races from pole, including last weekend in the British GP, to extend his championship lead over Bottas to 30 points in his quest for a record-equaling seventh world title.

F1 is back at Hamilton’s home circuit of Silverstone this weekend for a race also closed to spectators due to the coronavirus restrictions.

“I wasn’t that great,” Hamilton said. “But Valtteri did a good job and deserved pole.”

Bottas signed a one-year Mercedes contract extension earlier this week.

“The race pace is there,” Bottas said. “So the first job is to get a good start off the line (on Sunday).”

Nico Hulkenberg took an impressive third in his role as Sergio Perez’s replacement at Racing Point. Perez remains sidelined with the coronavirus and Hulkenberg was the only driver within one second of the Mercedes drivers.

The German driver qualified 13th last week but failed to start the race following a car failure.

“It has been a crazy seven or eight days,” he said. “Last week, we had the high of the comeback and then the low of not starting on Sunday.

“I felt more prepared this week. I am surprised to stand here but there is a big smile on my face.”

Max Verstappen took fourth ahead of Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo with Lance Stroll sixth for Racing Point.

Sebastian Vettel’s poor form in his Ferrari left him in 12th after the four-time world champion finished 10th in last Sunday’s race.

“It was all I had,” Vettel said over the team radio. “It was all I could get from this car. I tried.”

Vettel was signed by Ferrari to end its barren run of world championships, which extends to Kimi Raikkonen in 2007. He is leaving at the end of the season with Charles Leclerc, who qualified in eighth, identified as the team’s star of the future.

Lando Norris heads into his second home race in as many weeks in fourth spot in the championship and he will start from 10th. McLaren teammate Carlos Sainz, who will replace Vettel at Ferrari in 2021, finished 13th with Norris 4-1 up on the Spaniard in qualifying this season.

George Russell extended his unbeaten qualifying head-to-head with Williams teammate Nicholas Latifi to 5-0 after he was 15th, three places ahead of the rookie Canadian.

Giuseppe Farina drove an Alfa Romeo to victory at Formula One’s first world championship race, here at Silverstone 70 years ago.

But the Italian team will see both drivers line up on the last row of the grid for Sunday’s landmark race, with Antonio Giovinazzi and Raikkonen 19th and 20th.

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More AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/apf-AutoRacing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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