Valtteri Bottas says Mercedes “seems to be in our own league” compared to its Formula 1 rivals after qualifying on pole position for the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix.

Mercedes was unbeatable in the first qualifying session of the delayed 2020 F1 season as Bottas edged out teammate and reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton by just 0.012s to claim pole at the Red Bull Ring. The next fastest driver, Max Verstappen, was half a second behind the Mercedes duo.

Red Bull, who had seen a protest against Mercedes’ controversial DAS steering system knocked back after Friday practice, had been tipped to challenge Mercedes’ recent dominance of the sport but in truth the team never looked in contention to fight for the first pole on offer.

“It feels really good,” Bottas said after qualifying.

“I’ve missed this feeling you know after the qualifying - the shakes, it’s something special when you push the car to the limit and obviously we’ve been preparing for this for a long time - it feels so good, I can’t say much more than that.

“And our team has done an amazing job. We seem to be in our own league.”

After scoring the 12th career pole position of his F1 career and making the perfect start to the new season, the Finn also praised the “very impressive” progress Mercedes has made over the winter.

“It’s very impressive to see,” he explained. “It’s only the first qualifying season but I am so impressed so thanks everyone in the team, all the factories, it’s truly an amazing car to drive.

“Obviously a good result today but tomorrow is what matters.”

 

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