Vettel not thinking about championship battle in Austria

F1 Austria GP Preview Scuderia Ferrari 2017

Vettel not thinking about championship battle in Austria

Vettel has had a severe reprimand from the officials for his behaviour at the last race when he purposefully bumped Hamilton after he thought (mistakenly as data showed) Hamilton had brake-tested him.

Hamilton has a five-place grid penalty for an unauthorised gearbox change during the week, meaning he will line-up in eighth place. "He slowly understood that he did (make) a big mistake and at least he assured me that it would never happen again", he said. Bottas will aim for just his second victory, while Vettel is chasing a 46th - but on a track where he has twice retired, with a best finish of fourth.

"I have been training, keeping my head down, staying focused and staying quiet and making sure I came here healthy and strong so we can fight". I found out on Tuesday [that he would need a gearbox change], I think it was and, of course, you go in with a very positive mind about coming back and fighting and then of course something like that hits us. However, with the rest of the pack starting on ultra-softs, Hamilton will be able to go longer into the race before pitting and will enjoy a pace advantage towards the end after pitting.

It will give them some real test of their vehicle and the conditions before the all-important qualifying on Saturday where attaining a pole position would be on all drivers' agenda, especially for Vettel, Hamilton and Bottas.

Besides the trio of Vettel, Hamilton and Bottas, drivers like Daniel Ricciardo, who won the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, and Kimi Raikkonen will be eager to deliver the goods.

Hamilton had been in serene form around the Red Bull Ring on Friday, topping both sessions and out-pacing Vettel by nearly two tenths in Practice Two.

Rarely are the fortunes of the fourth and fifth-placed drivers in a race so tightly scrutinised but, then again, it is also just as uncommon to see a driver deliberately spear his auto into an opponent as Vettel did to Hamilton in Baku.

"It's been a really good Friday with no major headaches to complain about so far", said three-time world champion Hamilton.

Three years ago, Williams started from the front row with Massa on pole ahead of Bottas, his former teammate.

It will take something special for Hamilton to win the 57th race of his career.

But there was a freaky moment at the end of qualifying today when Hamilton was asked to shake hands with Vettel by the Sky Sports presenter. "Q1 and Q2 was good and then Q3 was just so-so".

Vettel finished second followed by the Brit in third.

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