Extreme E: X44 Continue Qualifying Dominance

New season, same X44 for Sir Lewis Hamilton’s team as they finished top qualifiers yet again in Extreme E’s season two opener in Saudi Arabia.

Qualifying 1:

Heavy rain overnight meant we would have to wait to witness Extreme E’s new qualifying format, which would have seen two five-car races. However, due to the track conditions, the organisers decided a return to the previous season’s format of individual team runs was required.

Jutta Kleinschmidt for ABT Cupra got the first competitive session of the season under way, putting in a strong lap time for her teammate and debutant Nasser Al-Attiyah to build upon.

His first lap in anger was going well too, until he missed the finish line. Rather than accepting a five-second time penalty, however, Al-Attiyah turned around and made sure he went through the finishing gate. It’s estimated this cost him thirty five seconds.

Chip Ganassi and Andretti United were the next teams to set a time. The Ganassi team initially went fastest, but were just beaten out by Andretti United. After their runs, both teams received a five second time penalty for various switch zone infringements.

Last year’s championship contenders, X44 and RXR hit the track with incredible speed and after their laps the teams went into second and first respectively.

JBXE followed RXR and they pushed hard. Perhaps too hard, as during Molly Taylor’s lap something broke on the car. She struggled to the end of the lap and finished one minute behind RXR’s benchmark time of 9:03.604.

Acciona Sainz and Xite Energy were next onto the track, with both teams completing their runs within twenty seconds of the leader.

Veloce became the penultimate team to try and set a time in Qualifying 1. Lance Woolridge was very quick around his lap and handed over to Christine GZ just marginally down on RXR’s time. GZ flew round the track but pushed just a little too hard and rolled the car. Thankfully, GZ was able to limp away from the crash but the team would not finish their run.

Newcomers McLaren finished off the qualifying session as Emma Gilmour took to the wheel. A steady run from both her and Tanner saw them finish in a respectable seventh position.

RXR were fastest in Qualifying 1, gaining ten intermediate points, with X44 just behind in second and Andretti United in third.

Qualifying 1 Classification:

  1. RXR 9:03.604    10 Points
  2. X44 +6.911    9 Points
  3. Andretti United +11.091   8 Points
  4. Chip Ganassi +12.238   7 Points
  5. Xite Energy +13.799   6 Points
  6. Acciona Sainz +17.751   5 Points
  7. McLaren +23.375   4 Points
  8. ABT Cupra +46.781   3 Points
  9. JBXE +1:00.763    2 Points
  10. Veloce +1 Lap   1 Point

Qualifying 2:

Qualifying 2 saw Extreme E revert back to the intended qualifying format this season. The teams were divided into two heats (teams in even positions after Qualifying 1 in Heat 1, odd positions in Heat 2).

In Heat 1, X44, Chip Ganassi, Acciona Sainz, ABT Cupra, and Veloce were all due to race against each other for more intermediate points. Veloce, however, were not able to take part as they were not able to repair the car following GZ’s Qualifying 1 accident.

As the lights went green X44 got a good start and took the lead. After the first few markers they lined up X44, Acciona Sainz, ABT Cupra, and Chip Ganassi.

Towards the end of the first lap, ABT Cupra’s Nasser Al-Attiyah was chasing down Acciona Sainz’s Carlos Sainz. Al-Attiyah used all his experience to throw the car up Sainz’s inside but crucially missed a waypoint marker. In trying to get back on line, he cut across Sainz and both teams suffered damage. Sainz dropped to the back and ultimately wouldn’t leave the switch zone. ABT Cupra lost power steering.

Heat 1 in Qualifying 2 ended with X44 winning the race comfortably, ahead of Chip Ganassi and ABT Cupra, and took home ten more intermediate points.

Heat 1 Classification:

  1. X44 9:00.620   10 Points
  2. Chip Ganassi +19.580   8 Points
  3. ABT Cupra +3:13.972   6 Points
  4. Acciona Sainz +1 Lap   4 Points
  5. Veloce DNS   2 Points

Heat 2 saw the remaining five teams (RXR, Andretti United, Xite Energy, McLaren, and JBXE) all take to the track as they tried to get themselves into a semi-final.

Andretti United had the best start, propelling themselves into first position after the first few flags. Behind them, McLaren, RXR, Xite Energy, and JBXE followed in that order.

Tanner Foust in the McLaren was chasing Andretti United’s Timmy Hansen for much of the first lap, but was ultimately not able to overtake him before the switch. Further behind, RXR and Xite Energy jostled for third position.

Disaster struck for McLaren in the switch zone as a technical issue meant Emma Gilmour could not get the car started quickly. By the time she got moving, the Woking based team had dropped far to the back.

With Johan Kristofferson now behind the wheel, RXR hoped to claw back some time on the cars ahead. He managed to do just, providing us with a thrilling finish to pass Katie Munnings in the Andretti United just before the line. Sadly for the German team, they received a post-race seventeen-second time penalty for speeding in the switch zone, promoting Andretti United into first place.

Heat 2 Classification:

  1. Andretti United 9:10.693   10 Points
  2. Xite Energy +13.703   8 Points
  3. JBXE +15.371   6 Points
  4. RXR +16.079   4 Points
  5. McLaren +52.673   2 Points

With the intermediate points from Qualifying 1 and 2 added together and any tying teams separated by fastest Continental Traction Challenge time, X44 came out on top, leading Andretti United and Chip Ganassi.

The results of qualifying mean X44 will race against RXR and Xite Energy for two places in the final in Semi-Final 1, while  Andretti United, Chip Ganassi, and ABT Cupra will do battle in Semi-Final 2. This leaves Acciona Sainz, JBXE, McLaren, and Veloce to fight for the fifth and final place in the final in the Crazy Race.

Overall Qualifying Classification:

  1. X44 19 Points
  2. Andretti United 18 Points
  3. Chip Ganassi 15 Points
  4. Xite Energy 14 Points
  5. RXR 14 Points
  6. ABT Cupra 9 Points
  7. Acciona Sainz 9 Points
  8. JNXE 8 Points
  9. McLaren 6 Points
  10. Veloce 3 Points

With the first qualifying day of the new season completed, attention turns to tomorrow, as we look to another exciting day of action.

X44 Complete Qualifying Cleansweep | Extreme E: Jurassic X Prix Qualifying Report

X44 topped qualifying for the fifth race weekend in a row. Lewis Hamilton’s team have completed a cleansweep of qualifying in Extreme E’s inaugural season.

Q1:

Qualifying this weekend would look a little different to previous rounds as the short circuit saw the first drivers in the cars complete two laps, rather than just the one. Race Control also ruled that every team had to field their male driver first in this session. This of course meant all of the female drivers went out first in Q2.

ABT Cupra’s Matthias Ekstrom got qualifying underway as he put in two quick laps to set the early pace. After teammate Jutta Kleinschmidt finished off the run, the ABT Cupra had set an early benchmark time of 9:24.113.

Debutant Lance Woolridge was next to take to the track, with the South African hoping to make a good impression on his Veloce team. They set a good time, just 6 seconds off ABT Cupra.

Oliver Bennett for Xite Energy followed. After a steady first lap, he knocked over a waypoint marker on his second lap and the team subsequently received a 10 second time penalty.

The Hansen brothers, Kevin with JBXE and Timmy for Andretti United, were next, where they and their respective teammates (Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Katie Munnings) set decent laps to put their teams in the mix.

Championship leaders RXR looked to strengthen their claim on the title as they took to the track. Johan Kristofferson set a solid base for teammate Molly Taylor, who flew round the track to put the team provisionally quickest.

The challengers, X44, were supposed to follow, however repairs to their car meant Acciona Sainz were next to take to the track. Both drivers pushed very hard and the Acciona Sainz team were less than a second slower than RXR.

After fixing their car, and once Chip Ganassi had had their run, X44 finally went out to complete their laps. Sebastian Loeb got the protagonists off to a flying start and as teammate Christina Gutierrez ended the run they went quickest in the session, taking maximum classification points ahead of Q2.

Qualifying 1 Classification:

  1. X44 9:19.985 9 Points
  2. RXR +1.901 8 Points
  3. Acciona Sainz +2.757 7 Points
  4. ABT Cupra +4.128 6 Points
  5. Veloce +10.395 5 Points
  6. Andretti United +12.118 4 Points
  7. Chip Ganassi +15.181 3 Points
  8. JBXE +20.682 2 Points
  9. Xite Energy +43.015 1 Point

Q2:

As with Qualifying 1, ABT Cupra got the final qualifying session of the season under way as Jutta Kleinschmidt took the wheel. After getting off to a good start, she took a wrong turn and the German team subsequently received a time penalty for missing a waypoint. Despite this, the team were able to set a relatively competitive benchmark time of 9:29.366.

Veloce and Xite Energy followed as they both looked to improve on their Q1 result. Veloce seemed to manage just that, going provisionally fastest, whereas Xite Energy were only able to slip into 3rd.

Next was the turn of JBXE’s Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, who put in two strong laps which saw her and teammate Kevin Hansen replace Veloce at the top the times.

Katie Munnings for Andretti United followed JBXE. The Brit put in two strong laps and handed over to Timmy Hansen with the team still in the mix. However, disaster struck as Hansen crashed the car into a tree. Both car and driver were okay to continue as Andretti United completed their run 19 seconds behind JBXE’s benchmark time.

The two teams left in the championship battle went next as both tried to get the edge over the other. Molly Taylor had a steady run for RXR before Johan Kristofferson put his foot to the floor to take the fastest time in the Continental Traction Challenge. Gutierrez and Loeb for X44 were quicker over the course of the run, however, and they went provisionally fastest.

Acciona Sainz and Chip Ganassi rounded out the final qualifying session of the season. Acciona Sainz had a good run, which saw them finish third in Q2. More bad luck came Chip Ganassi’s way as there was an issue with the steering during Leduc’s lap. They propped up the Q2 classification.

Qualifying 2 Classification:

  1. X44 9:14.793 9 Points 
  2. JBXE +4.112 8 Points 
  3. Acciona Sainz +7.828 7 Points 
  4. RXR +8.545 6 Points
  5. Veloce +11.951 5 Points
  6. ABT Cupra +19.573 4 Points
  7. Xite Energy +21.464 3 Points
  8. Andretti United +23.163 2 Points
  9. Chip Ganassi +36.638 1 Point

As all the classification points were added up, X44 came out on top, comfortably ahead of RXR in second. A number of teams had the same number of classification points and they were separated based on their fastest Continental Traction Challenge time.

Overall Qualifying Classification:

  1.  X44 18 Points
  2.  RXR 14 Points
  3. Acciona Sainz 14 Points
  4. ABT Cupra 10 Points
  5. JBXE 10 Points
  6. Veloce 10 Points
  7. Andretti United 6 Points
  8. Xite Energy 4 Points
  9. Chip Ganassi 4 Points

With the teams receiving championship points based on their overall qualifying classification, X44 closed the gap to RXR by a point. JBXE also leap-frogged Andretti United into 3rd place.

Championship Standings:

  1. RXR 140 Points
  2. X44 125 Points
  3. JBXE 100 Points
  4. Andretti United 99 Points 
  5. ABT Cupra 92 Points
  6. Acciona Sainz 88 Points
  7. Veloce 67 Points
  8. Chip Ganassi 67 Points
  9. Xite Energy 60 Points

Going into the semi finals tomorrow, X44 will face off against JBXE and Veloce, whilst RXR will race Acciona Sainz and ABT Cupra for a place in the final. Andretti United, Xite Energy, and Chip Ganassi will compete for the last spot in the final in the crazy race. Tomorrow is very finely poised.

Image courtesy of ExtremeE

Extreme E: X44 Continue Saturday Streak | Qualifying Report

image courtesy of ExtremeE

Lewis Hamilton’s team, X44, qualified fastest for the fourth race in a row this weekend in Sardinia; putting in a dominant display over their championship rivals.

Qualifying 1:

Championship leaders Rosberg X Racing (RXR) kicked off the Island X Prix qualifying, with the German team coming into the weekend mathematically able to win the title. Johan Kristofferson showed some strong early pace but that was to be undone as teammate Molly Taylor had an off. The RXR car stepped out as she was going over a blind crest and it rolled as the tires dug into the dust. Fortunately for the team, the car landed upright and Molly was able to finish her lap, setting a respectable time of 11:37.557.

Chip Ganassi’s Sara Price was next to take to the track as the team hoped they had put all their bad luck behind them. It was not to be, however, as the suspension broke within the first minute. Christine GZ also suffered from mechanical problems on her lap, which meant both Chip Ganassi and Xite Energy recorded a DNF.

X44 followed Xite Energy as they looked to continue their hot run of qualifying form. Christine Gutierrez was first out and barring a minor spin, set a solid foundation for Loeb to build upon. And build upon it he did! Loeb flew round the course to comfortably set the fastest time of the session so far with a 11:05.105.

Andretti United’s Timmy Hansen had the unfortunate job of trying to follow that run and a loss of power steering certainly didn’t help the cause. He limped the car to the pits and the issue was fixed as Katie Munnings jumped in. She had a steady lap and the American outfit posted a time 1:18.79 off of X44’s benchmark.

The final four teams all had quick runs, but none were able to match the pace of the X44 team, who finished Q1 top of the pile and took maximum qualifying points from the opening session.

Qualifying 1 Classification:

  1. X44 11:05.105 (9 Points)
  2. Acciona Sainz +12.28 (8 Points)
  3. Veloce +18.07 (7 Points)
  4. ABT Cupra +19.69 (6 Points)
  5. JBXE +22.90 (5 Points)
  6. RXR +32.45 (4 Points)
  7. Andretti United +1:18.79 (3 Points)
  8. Xite Energy +1 Lap (2 Points)
  9. Chip Ganassi +2 Laps (1 Point)

Qualifying 2:

Christine GZ kicked off Qualifying 2 for Xite Energy. Fortunately for them, she and teammate Oliver Bennett were able to finish their run and set a decent time of 11:33.636. Not so fortunately, the team received a 10 second time penalty after Bennett missed a waypoint flag.

Current Qualifying leaders X44 were next onto the track and they set a blistering run to smash their Q1 time and go provisionally to the top of the standings with a time of 10:55.401. They were to be the only team to go under 11 minutes.

Andretti United’s Katie Munnings followed as the team looked to just get round the course without a repeat of the issues from Q1. They did so, just 18.72s off of X44’s time.

It was disaster for Acciona Sainz and Veloce though, with both teams suffering from mechanical faults. The Sainz team had an issue with the steering which saw them finish some two minutes off the back of the pack, whilst Stephane Sarrazin’s suspension broke completely and he was unable to complete a lap.

The remaining four teams all had fast and uneventful runs to put themselves right up the order. None, however, were able to get near X44, who had taken maximum qualifying points.

Qualifying 2 Classification:

  1. X44 10:45.401 (9 Points)
  2. Chip Ganassi +17.20 (8 Points)
  3. RXR +18.37 (7 Points)
  4. Andretti United +18.72 (6 Points)
  5. ABT Cupra +47.16 (5 Points)
  6. JBXE +48.75 (4 Points)
  7. Xite Energy +58.23 (3 Points)
  8. Acciona Sainz +2:32.54 (2 Points)
  9. Veloce +2 Laps (1 Points)

Overall Qualifying Classification:

  1. X44 18 Points
  2. RXR 11 Points
  3. ABT Cupra 11 Points
  4. Acciona Sainz 10 Points
  5. Chip Ganassi 9 Points
  6. Andretti United 9 Points
  7. JBXE 9 Points
  8. Veloce 8 Points
  9. Xite Energy 5 Points

Teams on the same number of qualifying points were separated by the fastest traction zone (formerly super sector) times. Qualifying points do not count towards the championship, the points for which were distributed 12-4 through the field.

It will be X44 racing against Chip Ganassi and Andretti United in the first semi final, as the teams battle it out for their spot in the final. RXR, ABT Cupra, and Acciona Sainz will compete in semi final 2, whilst JBXE, Veloce, and Xite Energy will face off in the crazy race.

RXR’s championship lead shrunk (albeit ever so slightly) today as X44 look to chase them down. Chip Ganassi, who sit at the bottom of the table, were also able to close in on the team above them (Xite Energy).

Championship Standings:

  1. RXR 104 Points
  2. X44 96 Points
  3. Andretti United 83 Points
  4. JBXE 74 Points
  5. Acciona Sainz 70 Points
  6. ABT Cupra 64 Points
  7. Veloce 54 Points
  8. Xite Energy 51 Points
  9. Chip Ganassi 48 Points

Extreme E: Qualifying Report

image courtesy of ExtremeE

X44 topped an incredible day’s qualifying yet again as the Arctic XPrix weekend gets into full swing.

It was the new girl, Emma Gilmour, who kicked off qualifying in Q1 for the Veloce team. Coming in for the occupied Jamie Chadwick, Emma set a strong pace for teammate Stephane Sarrazin to build upon. Stephane had an uneventful run and, after a 10 second penalty was awarded for Emma knocking over a flag, Veloce Racing set a benchmark time of 14:19.436.

JBXE’s Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky was next out on track and was going strong until the suspension broke as she went over the rocks. Their Q1 session ended without Kevin Hansen getting in the car.

Xite Energy Racing and ABT Cupra followed as both teams had incident free runs to go 3rd and 1st respectively, with ABT Cupra posting a superb time of 13:48.947, some 30.48 seconds quicker than Veloce’s initial time.

With ABT Cupra the new benchmark it was the turn of championship leaders Rosberg X Racing to take to the track. Johan Kristoffersson was the first of their two drivers to tackle the track and was several seconds up as he got to the halfway point of the lap. At that point disaster struck. As Johan went over a bump, the motor suddenly cut out. It took a few crucial seconds to reboot the car, and, as the car cut out twice more, they were left over a minute down when Molly Taylor took over. Yet more bad news for the RXR team as, just a short way into the lap, Molly rolled the car, sustaining huge bodywork damage in the process. Somehow, she was able to continue and brought the car home 1:40.69 seconds down on ABT Cupra’s time.

Sara Price got Chip Ganassi’s qualifying off to a flyer, handling the track superbly to give the team a lead coming in to the changeover. Last event’s super sector dominator, Kyle Leduc, came into the car and stormed the track to give the team a lead in this weekend’s super sector and provisionally fastest qualifier. However, at some point in the lap, Leduc hit a flagpole and was given a 10 second time penalty. This put them just behind ABT Cupra in the standings.

X44 were fastest qualifiers in both the previous rounds coming in to this weekend and they made a strong case to do so again. Both drivers had clean yet fast runs and they went quickest by about 3 seconds, with a time of 13:45.235.

Andretti United and Acciona Sainz finished off the first qualifying session in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland as both teams looked to set themselves up nicely for the races tomorrow. Acciona Sainz had a careful run and went 6th quickest, some 55.64 seconds off the pace. Unfortunately for Andretti United, the car shut off as Timmy Hansen came into the braking zone for the change over, losing him a minute of time. Catie Munnings was only able to claw back a bit of the deficit as the American outfit finished Q1 in 7th position.

Classification standings and points following Q1:

  1. X44 13:45.235 9 points
  2. ABT Cupra +3.71 8 points
  3. Chip Ganassi +6.39 7 points
  4. Veloce +34.20 6 points
  5. Xite Energy +51.74 5 points
  6. Acciona Sainz +55.64 4 points
  7. Andretti United +1:29.95 3 points
  8. RXR +1:44.40 2 points
  9. JBXE DNF 1 point

Stephane Sarrazin kicked off Q2 for Veloce but problems started almost immediately for the Frenchman. By the time he had reached the first turn, the power steering had broken. He tried to reset the system but was unable to fix it and the team were only able to set a benchmark time of 16:51.810

Kevin Hansen then did his first and only lap of the whole of qualifying for the JBXE team. He was initially very quick but more issues struck as the car shut down coming in to the braking zone for the switch over, just as it did for his brother Timmy. Once they’d got the car going again, Mikaela jumped in and had a solid lap that saw the team go fastest so far with a 14:42.102.

Problems seemed to be the theme of the day as the next three teams all failed to complete their Q2 runs. Xite Energy’s Oliver Bennet suffered techincal issues, meaning he was unable to complete a lap. ABT Cupra’s Ekstrom made it a little further but came in to the switch zone with both rear tires punctured. The team were unable to change them and Jutta Kleinschmidt did not finish the run. Chip Ganassi’s Kyle Leduc didn’t even make the halfway stage as the rear left suspension broke going over a jump.

Next it was the turn of the Q1 quickest, X44. Loeb set the pace early, handing over to teammate Gutierrez with a 10 second advantage over JBXE. Christina had a steady run and brought the car home to provisionally top the session with a time of 14:37.598.

The rest of the qualifying session was uneventful as Andretti United, Acciona Sainz, and RXR all had solid runs to round off qualifying 3rd, 5th and 1st respectively.

Classification standings and points for Q2:

  1. RXR 14:26.647 9 points
  2. X44 +10.951 8 points
  3. Andretti United +14.917 7 points
  4. JBXE +15.455 6 points
  5. Acciona Sainz +30.377 5 points
  6. Veloce +1:56.163 4 points
  7. ABT Cupra DNF 3 points
  8. Xite Energy DNF 2 points
  9. Chip Ganassi DNF 1 point

For the final qualifying classification the points from both qualifying sessions were added up, with ties  being settled by who had the fastest super sector times. X44 topped the classification, going on to compete against Veloce and Acciona Sainz  in Semi Final 1. ABT Cupra, RXR, and Andretti United will compete in Semi Final 2. The first 2 finishers in each semi final will progress to the final. The last spot in the final will be contested between Chip Ganassi, JBXE, and Xite Energy.

Final Qualifying Classification:

  1. X44 17 points
  2. ABT Cupra 11 points
  3. RXR 11 points
  4. Andretti United 10 points
  5. Veloce 10 points
  6. Acciona Sainz 9 points
  7. Chip Ganassi 8 points
  8. JBXE 7 points
  9. Xite Energy 7 points

RXR’s lead at the top of the championship has weakened slightly following qualifying as X44 close to just 12 points away. Points that count in the championship are awarded by the position in qualifying, with the fastest, X44, receiving 12 points, and the slowest, Xite Energy, receiving just 4.

Here’s how the championship looks heading in to the races tomorrow:

  1. RXR 81 points
  2. X44 69 points
  3. JBXE 49 points
  4. Andretti United 46 points
  5. ABT Cupra 46 points
  6. Acciona Sainz 43 points
  7. Xite Energy 41 points
  8. Veloce 39 points
  9. Chip Ganassi 36 points

With qualifying completed, we’re finely poised for an exciting day of racing tomorrow!

X44 Top Thrilling Qualifying

image courtesy of ExtremeE -Andrew Ferraro

Reigning Formula One World Champion, Lewis Hamilton’s team, X44 ended an enthralling Qualifying Saturday on top of the time sheets, showing strong pace going into tomorrow’s semi final.

Qualifying 1:

Following little running in the first round, Veloce’s Jamie Chadwick started off qualifying for the second round of the inaugural season of Extreme E. After steady laps from her and her teammate Stephane Sarrazin, the team set a benchmark time of 11:37.599.

Image courtesy of ExtremeE – Sam Bloxham

Acciona Sainz got off to a strong start in their run, but the car unfortunately ground to a halt part way round Laia Sanz’s lap and they were unable to finish. Andretti United’s car also came to a stop but, after a lengthy delay, they were able to get moving again, finishing with a time of 14:39.659.

Image courtesy of ExtremeESam Bloxham

Next was the turn of championship leaders and Desert X Prix race winners Rosberg X Racing. Some of the pace from the last round appeared to be missing though as, despite being on provisional pole, they set a beatable time of 11:02.310.

Abt Cupra followed RXR and their drivers put in a strong performance. Jutta Kleinschmidt, who was standing in for the ill Claudia Hurtgen, was particularly impressive, as the 58 year old rounded off their run to put them top of the table with a 10:58.122. Unfortunately for them though, during the changeover, Jutta entered the switch zone before the car had been put into neutral, and the team promptly received a 15 second time penalty.

Then came Lewis Hamilton’s X44, whose drivers put in a superb perormance which saw them leap to provisional pole with a 10:47.289. American racing team Chip Ganassi also had a strong showing with Leduc putting in a phenomenal performance. They ended Q1 just 4 seconds down on X44, with a time of 10:51.528.

JBXE and Xite Energy then rounded off an intriguing first qualifying session with times of 11:13.405, and 11:52.806 respectively.

The standings after Q1:

  1. X44 10:47.289
  2. Chip Ganassi +4.239
  3. RXR +15.021
  4. Abt Cupra +25.833
  5. JBXE +26.116
  6. Veloce +50.310
  7. Xite Energy +1:05.517
  8. Andretti United +3:52.376
  9. Acciona Sainz DNF

Qualifying 2:

Going into Q2 the teams switched around their starting driver, which meant Stephane Sarrazin kicked off the final qualifying session of the Ocean X Prix for Veloce. The team had a relatively uneventful run and saw them post a combined time of 23:05.370.

Andretti United went into this session attempting to claw back as much of their lost time as possible. Unfortunately for the american outfit, they were unable to do so and were left with a 25:57.068. Their only chance of progressing to the semi finals would come from other teams running into problems.

Rosberg X Racing’s Molly Taylor got some serious air time in her final lap but some excellent car control prevented her from spinning out. They achieved a combined time of 22:12.438, putting them in a temporary pole position. Abt Cupra almost dislodged them straight away but ended up just 8 seconds behind with a 22:20.813.

X44 were the early pace setters in Q1, and another flying run from both of their drivers saw them jump up to the top of the time sheets with a 21:44.856. Close competitors Chip Ganassi got off to a tremendous start in their final qualifying run and were even a few seconds up on X44’s time. But then disaster struck. Just as Leduc entered the tree section, his car ground to a halt. After some desperate button pressing the car got going again, but it would be impossible to claw back the several minutes of time he had lost. Teammate Sara Price brought the car home, finishing with a 25:41.815.

With three teams having issues, remaining teams JBXE and Xite Energy just needed to have uneventful runs and see the cars home. Both teams did exactly that and finished with total times of 22:25.426 and 23:36.461 respectively.

Acciona Sainz rounded off the session after just managing to fix the issues they had had in Q1. With them not setting a time in that session, all they could do in Q2 was attempt to set the fastest time through the super sector. Both drivers pushed hard but ultimately neither were able to claim it from Chip Ganassi’s Kyle Leduc.

The final qualifying positions:

  1. X44 21:44.856
  2. RXR +27.580
  3. Abt Cupra +35.950
  4. JBXE +40.570
  5. Veloce +1:20.510
  6. Xite Energy +1:51.600
  7. Chip Ganassi +3:56.960
  8. Andretti United +4:12.210
  9. Acciona Sainz +1 Lap

Following an exciting Saturday the gap at the top of the team standings has closed slightly with RXR just 4 points ahead of X44. The current standings:

  1. RXR 46 Points
  2. X44 42 Points  
  3. Andretti 33 Points
  4. Sainz 30 Points 
  5. Xite 27 Points
  6. JBXE 26 Points 
  7. Abt Cupra 23 Points 
  8. Chip Ganassi 17 Points  
  9. Veloce 12 Points

All eyes now turn to Sunday where we will see the teams face off to determine the final finishing positions. In Semi Final 1, the first two finishers of X44, RXR, and Abt Cupra will progress to the final, where they will be joined by the top two finishers of Semi Final 2 (which consists of JBXE, Veloce, and Xite Energy). The shoot-out will be contested by Chip Ganassi, Andretti United, and Acciona Sainz as they vie for positions seven to nine.

It’s certain to be an exciting final day as the nine teams battle it out to be crowned rulers of the Ocean X Prix.

Scott Dixon Snatches Indianapolis 500 Pole from Colton Herta. Will Power and de Silvestro Narrowly Qualify.

Scott Dixon keeps his remarkable momentum going with a fourth pole position at the Indianapolis 500. His four-lap average of 231.685 mph topped the Fast Nine Shootout and will start on the front-row alongside Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta and Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay.

Colton Herta initially set a blistering four-lap average of 231.655 mph to take provisional pole, but Dixon had other ideas. Dixon was the last to run, and when he landed a 232.757 on his opening lap it was clear that Ganassi’s six-time IndyCar champion had the potential to earn his fourth pole. His drop-off was around 1.1mph across the four laps, so his final margin over Herta was only 0.03mph – after 10 miles of flat-out driving around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – but the job was done.

The next closest threat came from Rinus VeeKay, one of two drivers for Ed Carpenter Racing in the Fast Nine Shootout in what was a remarkable day for the team. Despite a small wiggle coming out of Turn 1 on his fourth lap, the Dutchman’s 231.511 was enough to start ahead of teammate Ed Carpenter (231.504 mph). They made up the only Chevrolet cars in an afternoon that was dominated by Honda.

Tony Kanaan (231.032 mph) starts ahead of his Spanish teammate Alex Palou (231.032 mph) to round out the second-row. For the Brazilian to out-qualify two of his full-time counterparts is nothing short of sensational.

The third-row will be shared between Ryan Hunter-Reay (230.499 mph), Helio Castroneves (230.355 mph), and Marcus Ericsson (230.318 mph). Meyer Shank Racing will be incredibly happy with Castroneves’s performance to pip the final Chip Ganassi driver in the session.

This afternoon also saw the final-row shootout for those who failed to make the Top 30 in yesterday’s qualifying. Will Power, Simona de Silvestro, Sage Karam, Charlie Kimball, and RC Enerson were all at risk of not qualifying for this year’s Indianapolis 500.

de Silvestro qualifies for the Indy 500. Photo Courtesy of Chris Owens.

It was Karam, Power, and de Silvestro who eventually qualified for the final-row in what was a significant milestone in the history of The Brickyard. de Silvestro and Paretta Autosport become the first female driver and all female-led team to qualify for ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Motorsport’.

Team Owner Beth Paretta was full of elation and had this to say on their achievement: “This is just the beginning!”

Consequentially, that means both Kimball and Enerson fail to qualify for the Indianapolis 500.

Some other shock performances in Saturday qualifying came from Penske’s Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud. Newgarden made multiple qualifying attempts but was forced to settle with a 230.071 mph four-lap average, good enough only for 21st. Likewise, Simon Pagenaud closed the day in 26th after setting an average of 229.778 mph in what was a difficult day for Chevrolet-powered teams.

Defending Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato will start from 15th. The last to win the 500′ after starting outside the Top 10 was Alexander Rossi in 2016. Incidentally, Rossi just missed out on the Fast Nine Shootout and starts 10th.

With the grid now set, teams have two more practice sessions before the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500, which will take place next Sunday 30 May at  17:00 (BST.)

FULL CLASSIFICATION:

  1. Dixon
  2. Herta
  3. VeeKay
  4. Carpenter
  5. Kanaan
  6. Palou
  7. Hunter-reay
  8. Castroneves
  9. Ericsson
  10. Rossi
  11. Jones
  12. O’Ward
  13. Fittipaldi
  14. Rosenqvist
  15. Sato
  16. Hinchcliffe
  17. McLaughlin
  18. Rahal
  19. Daly
  20. Harvey
  21. Newgarden
  22. Hildebrand
  23. Ferrucci
  24. Montoya
  25. Andretti
  26. Pagenayd
  27. Bourdais
  28.  Wilson
  29. Chilton
  30. Kellet
  31. Karam
  32. Power
  33. de Silvestro

Rinus VeeKay: “We are ready for the 500”

Rinus VeeKay image courtesy of IndyCar

The first time I took notice of this young Dutchman, he was leading the F3 Asian Winter Series competing with the likes of Williams test driver Dan Ticktum and F3 heavy-hitters David Schumacher and Ye Yifea. I didn’t know much about him at the time, but I was mightily impressed with his performances ultimately dominating the championship twenty nine points ahead of his nearest rival.

Now, he is starting fourth in the Indianapolis 500, the highest placed rookie.

It has been a whirlwind twelve months for Rinus VeeKay to say the least, a name he adopted after coming to compete in the US, his real name: Rinus Van Kalmthout. Since his incredible performance in the Indy Lights series he has been catapulted into motorsport stardom with the Ed Carpenter Racing team for the NTT IndyCar series for the 2020 season.

For the Netherlands, it is a seismic moment. The first Dutch driver in top tier American Open wheel racing since Robert Doornbos in 2009. Doornbos and only four other Dutchman have ever raced in IndyCar including two time Indy 500 winner Arie Luyundyk Sr, his son Arie Luyundyk Jr, Cornelius Euser and Jan Lammers.

Having waited so long for another star in the IndyCar series, they were treated to a miraculous sight last Sunday, seeing Rinus blasting through turn one of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway clocking in at just over 240mph. One of the fastest unofficial speeds ever recorded at the Indy 500.

The previous day he knocked many big names out of the ‘Fast Nine’ shootout, including the likes of Will Power, Josef Newgarden, Helio Castroneves and Fernando Alonso to name but a few. This is no mean feat. However, rather than let the pressure get to him, he put in a fantastic four-lap average (230.704mph) during the ‘Fast Nine’ to start on the fourth row alongside Ryan Hunter-Reay and James Hinchliffe.

I was fortunate to sit down with Rinus on Wednesday 19th August, four days before he is due to take the starting grid in ‘The Greatest Spectacle in the World’. The aim: to get an insight into the nineteen-year-old Dutchman, to reflect on his fantastic performance so far.

Adam (Q):

Hi Rinus! How are you feeling? Are you OK?

Rinus VeeKay (R):

Yeah, I’m feeling great. It’s been a crazy few days, but I’m very happy with the result and it’s been a crazy weekend, but it’s also been the best weekend.

 Q:

So Rinus, first of all, congratulations on such a magnificent performance at your first Indy 500. Through to the ‘Fast Nine’, starting fourth, the highest placed rookie. That is the highest starting position for a Dutchman in 21 years since the 1999 Indy 500, which was your mentor, Arie Luyendyk, who started on pole that day.

That must be something you are immensely proud of. How do you reflect on such a fantastic debut performance?

R:

Yeah, I’m really proud of it. Of course, I did not really expect it. Of course, I knew we had a good car, but the Hondas were looking strong and I was really happy to make the ‘Fast Nine’. But then, yeah, having such a good qualifying run; that almost front row was possible was amazing.

Q:

Absolutely and you’re the only Chevrolet powered car through to the ‘Fast Nine’, which is incredible as well. Many have commented on the lack of speed by Chevy and that you guys were running a low downforce set up in order to negate the power of the Hondas. However, you hit 240 miles an hour going through into turn one.

My question has two parts here. One, what was it like running at such an incredible speed? Have you experienced anything like that ever in your career?

And secondly, would you be running a similar low downforce set up during the race? And what can you expect to get out of the race with that?

R:

Well, it was amazing touching 240 miles per hour, that’s kind of a dream come true. It’s amazing speed, of course, I had a bit of a tailwind. It was cool, turning in to turn one staying flat to 240 miles an hour. Never experienced that before, but this definitely is my land speed record.

For the race, you need more downforce to run in traffic in the race, and the tyres will not last if we keep it on that low downforce. So yeah, we will go for more downforce on a kind of race trim that everyone will be on. And yeah, we have a really strong race car. I know that. And we are ready for the 500.

Q:

Fantastic. You seem to have had quite a lot of success at the Motor Speedway. You came third here at the Freedom 100 in Indy Lights and you seem to done well at the road course in both Indy lights and IndyCar. What is there about the Motor Speedway you find so special?

R:

It’s super special, it’s like the racing mecca. The feeling driving here, if you just drive through the gates, it’s just like heaven.

It’s amazing and I really enjoy driving here. Of course, you need a bit of luck to be successful, but I love the speedway and of course, also the IMS road course has been amazing this year with my highest IndyCar finish so far.

Q:

Some of our readers may be hearing about you for the first time, but they will be eager to learn a little bit about your amazing journey into IndyCar. So, you know, I’ve got a list here of some of your accolades.

  • Second in US F2000 National Championship (2017),
  • Second in the BOSS GP series (2017),
  • Third in  the MRF Challenge Formula (2017),
  • First in the Pro Mazda Championship (2018),
  • First in the F3 Asian Winter Series (2019),
  • Second  in the Indy Lights Series (2019).

Some may be wanting to know why you chose to go round the US motorsport route rather than the European circuit and follow people such as Max Verstappen going to Formula One.

What was it that drew you to America? And I have heard that there are some perceptions that it’s more down to talent in the US. Is that a fair assumption?

R:

Yes, that’s quite fair to say. The Road to Indy is known for their scholarship program and I won the 2018 Pro Mazda Championship and because of that I had the funding to go to Indy Lights. Then it just all happened from there on. So actually that win in 2018, made possible, by The Road to Indy, just made it possible for me to drive in my car eventually.

it’s been tough to go this way. It’s not always been easy but it’s been a great few years and to make it to IndyCar in this rapid way is great.

 Q:

One question I had from one of our contributors was about your time in the BOSS GP Open series. He wanted to ask. It’s one of the more lesser known categories, one could say, but it hosts so many historical sports cars. It sounds like such an amazing series to be a part of. Did you learn anything in particular in your time in that series? And what benefits did you find in doing it?

R:

Yeah, my goal to do that was, I was 16 years old, when I did that. I did a few races there I didn’t do the full season. But to get experience at that young age with, well, I had 680 horsepower. Wow. That’s something very educational. And it’s something important to master when you’re younger. And I think that’s really helped me getting used to high power, high breaks, high downforce when I was only 16 years old.

Q:

Fantastic. Do the likes of people like Max Verstappen, Robin Frinjs in Formula E, Nick de Vries who is F2 Champion, and of course yourself. Does that give you hope that motorsport in the Netherlands is on the rise? It seems like Dutch motorsport is in a really good place right now.

R:

Yeah, it really is. We have some great drivers. Robin Frinjs who is a great driver in DTM and Formula E. Nyck De Vries who is a great driver in Formula E. Max Verstappen of course and then on the other side of the ocean, it’s me in IndyCar. It’s great to have so many drivers in the top categories of open wheel racing, and it’s just great to be part of it.

Q:


It’s like you said, you don’t get many Dutchmen in IndyCar. What is it like trying to get the attention of motorsport fans from the Netherlands to watch you in IndyCar? Do you think that you have a lot of attention right now from the Netherlands?

R:

Yeah, the attention is really getting better and better. Of course, it’s been a little tough because everyone was super ‘Formula One minded’. Now they’ve seen my qualifying performance and of course now with the internet, Twitter, everything, it rolls like a snowball. Everyone starts to get really excited. I think most of the country is going to watch the 500 next weekend, so it’s going to be really cool. I think especially the attention towards IndyCar is really on the rise now.

Q:

It certainly has been with my family we’ve been sat around the whole sofa watching it for the past few weeks. So you’ve provided some fantastic entertainment, especially during lockdown.

In the lower categories, you had a competitive rivalry with the likes of fellow rookie Oliver Askew. You two alongside Alex Palou and Dalton and Pato will be going for the Rookie of the Year title on Sunday. Do those sorts of things motivate you as a driver? And will competing well against the likes of Oliver be an extra bit of motivation for you come the race on Sunday?

R:

I’ve had a long rivalry with Oliver. He’s a great driver and he’s always been a benchmark whenever you go to the track. We have a lot of quick drivers in IndyCar now so Oliver is a quick rookie but also Alex, Patricio, Dalton Kellet, they are super quick here. We’ve got some really strong rookies this year and it feels good to be kind of the best rookie and so that gives me a huge amount of confidence.

Q:

How would you rate your IndyCar season so far? You’ve had a few unfortunate accidents here and there but on the whole your performances have been really positive and certainly the qualifying here at Indy 500 surely should give you confidence for the rest of the full IndyCar season. So how would you reflect on the season so far and your hopes for the future? 

R:

Yeah it’s been a weird season. Of course with COVID to start off with and then my first race at Texas was very immature, very rookie, but I really learned from that. It was one of my biggest lessons in my career. And then from then on, as a driver I made huge steps.

Of course after that we had Indy IMS Road Course where I had my first top five finish. That was great with a great strategy. And then at Road America we struggled a little, I also had some engine issues in the race so that was unfortunate. And in Iowa we were on our way possibly to a victory in race 1 until, well you know what happened with Colton. That was very unfortunate. In race 2 we had some pit lane issues so it’s not been the luckiest year. But, well let’s hope we can make a turnaround from here.

 Q:

For all your prospective fans out there as I am sure after this weekend you will have many. What can we expect from you come this Sunday?

R:

I’m gonna just give it my all. I know we have a great race car. Of course a lot of the race is about strategy, so that will be important, a lot of thinking. But I think we can make the people at home, make then sit at the top of their seats and enjoy the race. I really want to make sure that this year, when there are no fans, they still really enjoy it.

Q:

And that’s another good point that there will be no fans this year at the 500. Does that feel a little bit strange do you think that’s going to be weird come Sunday?

R:

It feels a little strange yeah. You are so used to having so many fans here at Indy. The fans make the event what it is and you miss that. You can feel that the atmosphere is not like that. Of course, it’s still the 500, you still have the speed and the sensation but yeah the fans are a gift when they are here.

Q:

I mean I’m sure that even though they are not going to be there there’s going to be thousands more at home tuning in watching at home live so don’t worry there’s going to be lots of people supporting you back at home.

I think that’s pretty much all we have time for that’s the fifteen minutes. So thank you so much Rinus it’s been a real pleasure talking to you. Thank you for giving up some of your time to speak to us. We wish you so much luck for the race on Sunday and we really hope you have a good turnout and a good result come this Sunday?.

R:

Thank you very much. I’ll make sure everyone will enjoy the race, and me too and hopefully drink the bottle of milk at the end!

 

 

Hamilton clinches pole in Monaco after disappointing qualifying for Ferrari

It was a dry but overcast afternoon in Monaco and, as the green light went out in Q1, eighteen of the drivers took to the Circuit de Monaco in a bid to claim pole position.

Monaco is a tight street circuit, so many choose to set competitive times early to avoid being caught out by a yellow or red flag. Early lap times are crucial at this track.

Both Red Bulls of Gasly and Verstappen sat in the garage at the beginning of Q1, with Verstappen’s car being pulled apart and swiftly put back together. Whatever issues he had seemed to have been fixed as he exited the garage.

Leclerc struggled to set a good lap time at the start of the session,  having been held up by Lance Stroll. Hulkenberg almost ran into Giovinazzi in a very similar situation at turn 18, with the pair being put under investigation for the incident.

Verstappen had the initial time to beat, three tenths quicker than defending world champion Lewis Hamilton. Leclerc was in third, with Alex Albon sitting in an impressive fourth place for Toro Rosso.

Hamilton also seemed to struggle, as replays showed the Mercedes driver locking up going into the chicane. After a bit of a scrappy lap, his teammate Bottas managed to set the pace with a 1:11.562.

Steve Etherington

Leclerc then missed the weighbridge procedure, as did Perez and Hulkenberg. All were investigated after qualifying came to a close for the infringements.

Vettel clipped the barrier at the Swimming Pool exit before pitting and returning to the track to set a competitive time. The Ferraris were cutting it fine in P17 and P15 as the chequered flag came out.

After topping the session in FP3, Leclerc dropped out of the session in a disappointing P16 at his home Grand Prix, having been left in the garage by Ferrari as the session came to a close. It was a costly and frustrating mistake which resulted in Leclerc falling behind traffic on his final attempt. Joining Leclerc in the drop-zone were Perez, Stroll, Russell and Kubica.

Both Mercedes went out at the beginning of Q2, with Bottas setting a new track record and Hamilton struggling to match the pace of his teammate in P3 behind Verstappen. Hamilton quickly managed to slot into second spot.

Several drivers made minor mistakes throughout the session, including Magnussen who clipped the wall going into Mirabeau as his Haas struggled to find grip.

With five minutes remaining in Q2, all drivers bar Verstappen went out to set their quickest laps. Verstappen sat in P1 in front of both Silver Arrows as the session ended with Hulkenberg, Norris, Grosjean, Raikkonen and Giovinazzi in the elimination zone. Grosjean was majorly unhappy with P13 after having been held up by the Red Bull of Pierre Gasly, who was then put under investigation for the incident.

Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Both Alfa Romeo cars had a disappointing session after showing great pace in free practice, finishing in P14 and P15.

Vettel sat in P4, followed by Kevin Magnussen and both Toro Rossos. Gasly sat in P8 with Daniel Ricciardo behind in P9. Rounding out the top 10 was McLaren’s Carlos Sainz.

The final part of qualifying got underway as all ten drivers took to the track on soft compound tyres. Valtteri Bottas set the initial pace with a staggering 1:10.257, four tenths ahead of Max Verstappen in second position.

Hamilton initially made a mistake going into the chicane which meant his first lap had to be aborted, but he managed to slot into P2 on his second run, two tenths behind his teammate.

Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo made a risky decision to go for only one flying lap in the session and managed P6.

Sebastian Vettel made a late mistake and ran into the barrier at Tabac, but he didn’t sustain any damage.

After a flawless performance throughout qualifying by Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton pipped his teammate as the chequered flag came out, clinching pole position by half a tenth from Bottas.

Behind, Max Verstappen lined up P3 followed by Sebastian Vettel in P4, Gasly, Magnussen, Ricciardo, Kvyat, Sainz, and Albon.

It was certainly an interesting session with several cars being investigated for impeding the regulations throughout the afternoon. It was another dominant session by Mercedes, but an extremely disappointing day for Ferrari who will have to rethink their strategy for tomorrow’s Monaco Grand Prix. What’s more, with a 60% chance of rain, it certainly seems as if the race could be full of surprises.

 

[Featured image – LAT Images]

Indy 500 Drama: Alonso Fails To Qualify

In pursuit of the Triple Crown (Monaco GP, Le Mans 24 Hours and Indy 500) Fernando Alonso and McLaren returned to American soil for the Indianapolis 500.

Saturday was the day where the top 30 qualifying took place, with the fast nine to qualify again on Sunday for pole position and the six drivers out of the top 30 would also qualify again on Sunday, but with a higher stake.

After the two-time F1 World Champion did not make the top 30 (he ended up in 31st) it was time for ‘Bump Day’, where the last six drivers fight for the last three positions on the starting grid. The three slowest would pack up and go home. James Hinchcliffe, Sage Karam, Fernando Alonso, Max Chilton, Patricio O’Ward and Kyle Kaiser were all in the danger zone.

First to put a time on the table was James Hinchcliffe. With an average of 227.543 MPH, he was almost guaranteed of a spot on the grid for next week’s race, having missed out on the race last year. Next in line was Max Chilton, and just like Alonso, with a Carlin car. His pace was way off, with a mere 226.192 MPH meaning his chances would be very slim to qualify.

The third driver to make his run was Alonso. His first lap looked promising for a good result, and he ended up with an average of 227.353 MPH, putting him in (at that moment) second place.

Zak Brown and Fernando Alonso watch and wait after their qualifying attempt. Credit: Joe Skibinski/IndyCar

With three drivers to go, it would take just two of them to be faster than Alonso for the Spaniard not to qualify for the legendary race. The fact that Fernando was signing some autographs rather than watching the timings showed everything about his nerves. He just didn’t want to look, knowing full well that it would be very close.

Sage Karam surprised with a pretty quick average of 227.740 MPH, putting him on the top of the table. He pushed Alonso back to third place, just enough to qualify. But with two drivers left, tensions were rising.

Patricio O’Ward, the new Red Bull F1 junior, also drove with a Carlin built car, which showed; an average of 227.092 MPH put him in fourth, meaning he was done for this year. The last one who could attempt to qualify was Kaiser.

His first lap was the same as Alonso, but his second and third lap were slightly quicker than the Spaniard’s. With only one lap to go, Alonso once again went to sign some items of fans, too afraid of looking at the timings.

In a very dramatic manner, Kaiser – with his very small Juncos Racing team – beat the great (but new) McLaren Indy team to the last spot on the grid: 227.372 MPH. Just 0.019MPH quicker than Fernando.

Juncos Racing celebrate qualifying for the Indy 500, despite numerous setbacks. Credit: Chris Jones/IndyCar

In a reaction on social media, Alonso said: “A difficult week, no doubts. We tried our best, even today with a completely different set-up and approach, 4 laps flat on the throttle but we were not fast enough. It’s never easy to drive around here at 227mph+, and want more speed… We tried our best and we’ve been brave at times, but there were people doing a better job than us. Success or disappointments only come if you accept big challenges. We accepted.”

Gil de Ferran, McLaren sporting director, apologized to Alonso, the team and fans. “This has been a very emotional and difficult experience, I think, not only for me but for the whole team”, he said. “I want to take this opportunity to apologize and thank the fans, not only here in the U.S. but globally, who have been following our progress.  So you know, this is in my 35 years of racing – actually a few more – the most painful experience I’ve ever had.”

Even though Alonso will not be there, the show still goes on. The only Carlin car to qualify for the Indy 500 was Charlie Kimball in 20th. Meanwhile, Simon Pagenaud took pole and got a cheque of $100,000, with Ed Carpenter and Spencer Pigot lining up next to him. There will still be a fantastic race and all fans of motorsport should definitely watch it.

Simon Pagenaud accepts his pole award for his first ever Indy 500 pole. Credit: Chris Jones/IndyCar

(Featured Image Credit: Shawn Gritzmacher/IndyCar)

Bottas takes blistering pole position in Spain

The clouds cleared and the sun came out as qualifying got underway at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain this afternoon.

Q1 got off to a rather quiet start until Nico Hulkenberg locked up his front-right tyre and ran into the barrier at turn four and over the barrier, losing his front wing. The German managed to rejoin the circuit, but had to limp his Renault back to the pits for repairs before he could set a competitive lap time.

Shortly after, British driver George Russell had a spin on the final chicane at turn 13 before rejoining the track.

At the end of Q1, the pack was led by Valtteri Bottas, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in P2 and Lewis Hamilton in P3. Rookie Lando Norris managed to finish the session in an impressive P6, and home-boy Carlos Sainz managed to finish Q1 in P8.

The five drivers who dropped out of Q1 were Hulkenberg and Stroll – who has dropped out of Q1 for nine consecutive races – followed by Giovanazzi, and both Williams’ of Russell and Kubica. Russell has a five place grid penalty for a new gearbox so will start P20 in tomorrow’s race.

LAT Images

In Q2, both Mercedes drivers set impressive pace at the start, with Hamilton setting a new track record of a 1:16.038. Vettel’s time, by comparison, was six tenths slower.

Ricciardo majorly impressed in Q2, slotting into P10. The Renault hasn’t shown great pace so far this weekend, and despite not having completed any qualifying runs in FP3, Ricciardo managed to set a very competitive time of 1:17.299, a positive outcome for Renault after Hulkenberg’s incident in Q1.

The session ended with Bottas in first with a 1:15.924, followed by teammate Lewis Hamilton and the the two Ferraris in P3 and P4.

Out at the end of Q2 was Lando Norris, Alex Albon, Carlos Sainz at what is his home race, Kimi Raikkonen, and Sergio Perez.

Bottas put in an extraordinary flying lap at the beginning of Q3, setting a blistering time of 1:15.406, six tenths quicker than Hamilton.

Leclerc didn’t set an initial lap-time, seemingly in a bid to set one single flying lap. Despite his best efforts, the Monegasque driver finished the session in P5.

LAT Images

Valtteri Bottas took pole position with his first lap time in Q3, with Hamilton in P2 followed by Vettel, Verstappen and Leclerc. Pierre Gasly, Grosjean, Magnussen, Kvyat and Ricciardo rounded out the top ten. Ricciardo, however, has a three-place grid penalty from the previous race so will start P13 on the grid.

It certainly looks like tomorrow’s race will be an interesting one under the sun in Barcelona. Will it be another Mercedes one-two, or will the Ferraris fight them for victory? Time will tell.

 

[Featured image – LAT Images]

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