Bottas: Mercedes seem to be in ‘own league’

Jamie Woodhouse
Valtteri Bottas Mercedes PA

Ola Kallenius, CEO of Daimler, has insisted Mercedes are in Formula 1 for the long haul – likening their stability to that of Bayern Munich.

Valtteri Bottas was full of praise for Mercedes after taking pole for the Austrian Grand Prix, saying they are in their “own league”.

And it is hard to argue with him based on the team’s dominance of the weekend so far.

That control over the rest of the pack grew further in Q3 when Bottas set a new track record as he dipped into the 1:02s.

His 1:02.939 proved good enough for pole, but the Finn’s efforts went a little too far on his last flying lap as he went off the circuit twice.

Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton came extremely close to taking pole for himself, but fell short by 0.012s.

Speaking to Sky Sports F1 after qualifying, Bottas said: “It feels really good, I’ve missed this feeling, the shakes after qualifying.

“It is something special when you push the car to the limit and obviously I have been preparing for this for a long time.

“Our team…an amazing job. We seem to be in our own league.”

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Mercedes blew away their competition at the Red Bull Ring with Max Verstappen proving to be the fastest non-Mercedes driver in P3, albeit over half a second slower than Bottas.

The Dutchman will, however, be the only driver in the top 10 to start the race on the medium tyres, which could give him an advantage come Sunday.

Nonetheless, Bottas was rightly delighted with his showing in qualifying and wanted to pay respects to his team for providing him with an “amazing car”.

“It’s very impressive to see,” he admitted when asked about the gap back to the rest of the pack.

“It’s only the first qualifying of the season but I am so impressed, so thanks to everyone in the team and at the factory, it is truly an amazing car to drive.”

Red Bull believe their RB16 will be more competitive in the race, hence why they set Verstappen up with what they feel is the best race strategy.

And as Bottas put it, pole was “obviously a good result but tomorrow is what matters.”

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