Will Power claims pole for St. Pete

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Will Power netted his fourth consecutive pole at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, out-hustling Takuma Sato and a surging Simona de Silvestro to claim P1 for Sunday’s 110-lap main event (Noon ET, NBC Sports Network).

Power, who won at St. Pete in 2010 and was the fastest driver in yesterday’s practice sessions, threw down a lap of 1 minute, 1.2070 seconds around the 1.8-mile street course to earn his 30th career pole. With that, he became the first driver to score four consecutive poles at the same venue since Sebastien Bourdais pulled off the feat at Monterrey, Mexico from 2003 to 2006 in Champ Car.

“It’s been a very good start to the season,” Power told NBC Sports Network afterwards. “We just had to get through the [Firestone] Fast Six and look after the tires in the first two rounds, then see what we could do in the last one.”

Sato, who achieved A.J. Foyt Racing’s best qualifying result since 1998 (Billy Boat, Texas Motor Speedway), said that P2 was “a little [of a] shame” but was still happy with the result.

“The whole team did a fantastic job — not just for this weekend, but throughout the course of the winter,” said Sato.

But the biggest surprise came from De Silvestro, who struggled mightily with a Lotus engine in 2012 but now runs with Chevy-powered KV Racing Technology — and with the help of that stronger motor, she established herself as a potential podium threat for Sunday.

“The whole weekend has been going really well for us, and it’s really cool to finally get the results we wanted,” she said. “It’s unbelievable. We were right there with [Power] and Sato…It’s just really fun to be up there with them.”

James Hinchcliffe will start alongside De Silvestro in Row 2, while defending St. Pete champion Helio Castroneves and rookie racer Tristan Vautier make up Row 3.

IZOD IndyCar Series – Honda GP of St. Petersburg

Starting Lineup

Row 1

12-Will Power
14-Takuma Sato

Row 2

78-Simona de Silvestro
27-James Hinchcliffe

Row 3

3-Helio Castroneves
55-Tristan Vautier

Row 4

25-Marco Andretti
1-Ryan Hunter-Reay

Row 5

6-Sebastian Saavedra
10-Dario Franchitti

Row 6

11-Tony Kanaan
22-Oriol Servia

Row 7

19-Justin Wilson
83-Charlie Kimball

Row 8

15-Graham Rahal
67-Josef Newgarden

Row 9

98-Alex Tagliani
16-James Jakes

Row 10

77-Simon Pagenaud
9-Scott Dixon

Row 11

7-Sebastien Bourdais
5-EJ Viso

Row 12

20-Ed Carpenter
4-JR Hildebrand

Row 13

18-Ana Beatriz

Verstappen doesn’t want F1 season to end after recent run of form

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Max Verstappen says he is not ready for the 2017 Formula 1 season to come to an end after enjoying a run of strong form through the closing stages of the campaign.

Verstappen endured a rocky run of form through to the end of the European season that saw him suffer a number of reliability issues and score just a single podium finish, taking third in China back in April.

However, the Dutchman has rallied to score more points than any other driver in the last five races, including victories in Malaysia and Mexico, as well as a podium finish in Japan.

Verstappen heads into next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix chasing a third win of the year to sign off, but joked he does not want the season to end just as he’s got into a good groove.

“We will, of course, try and end the season with a strong result in Abu Dhabi,” Verstappen said. “Last year was actually quite a good race after skipping a pit stop following a spin at Turn 1, it was hard to manage the tires to the end of the race but we did it and finished fourth.

“I would say that my favorite part of the track is at Turns 2 and 3, the fast left, right. It’s also very cool driving underneath the hotel and racing in the darkness with all the lights.

“The final sector at Yas Marina is actually quite technical so you have to be really precise there, but it should also be our strongest part of the track.

“There are quite a few overtaking opportunities to make the race interesting, before the long straight at the hairpin and then at the end of the straight under braking for the next chicane section.

“Abu Dhabi is the last race on the calendar, but I don’t actually want the season to end. I’m really fired up at the moment and I just want to keep going.

“The nice thing will be to spend some time with friends and family over the winter break and then I will look ahead to January and get back into training before it all starts again.”