'We're in a league of our own' - Bottas hails Mercedes after Austrian pole
Valtteri Bottas believes Mercedes is in a league of its own after crushing the opposition in qualifying on Formula 1's return to racing in Austria.
Lewis Hamilton had dominated practice by finishing top of the timesheet in all three sessions at an empty Red Bull Ring, but it was Bottas who had the final say when it mattered most over one lap.
The Finn edged out the six-time F1 champion by just 0.012secs, setting a new lap record in the process of one minute 02.939s, for his third pole in four years at the track, with Red Bull's Max Verstappen over half-a-second back in third in his Red Bull.
"It feels really good," said Bottas. "I've missed these feelings - the qualifying shakes. It's something special when you push the car to the limit.
"I've been preparing for this for a long time and it feels so good. I can't say more than that, and our team, oh, amazing job. We seem to be in our own league.
"I just really enjoyed it, and for me, the qualifying session, I finally managed to unlock some performance from myself and from the car. I managed to get the confidence, put in some good laps and the pieces together."
Given the gap to Verstappen, who at least offers a variable for the race as he is the only driver in the top 10 who will start on the medium tyre, Bottas added: "It's very impressive to see. I'm surprised. It shows the amazing strength of this team.
'It's only the first qualifying of the season, but I'm so impressed, so thanks to everyone in the team, at the factories, It's truly an amazing car to drive. Obviously a good result today, but tomorrow is what matters."
There was one hair-raising moment for Bottas on his second run in Q3 when he ran wide at turn four and onto the gravel, admitting it was "my mistake".
He said: "It wasn't quite perfect, but it was super close with Lewis. I'm glad it was good enough."
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