Lotus keen to keep Raikkonen from Red Bull

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Lotus F1 team owner Gerard Lopez believes Kimi Raikkonen will not leave his team to join Red Bull.

It follows Red Bull owners Dietrich Mateschitz’s remarks two weeks ago that Raikkonen was a “candidate” to join the team next year if Mark Webber leaves.

The prospect of joining the reigning three-time champions could be an attractive one to Raikkonen, who won the drivers’ championship with Ferrari in 2007. His current contract with Lotus expires at the end of this year.

Lopez told Autosport the team’s relationship with Raikkonen is “excellent”. He added “We are well where we are and I think Kimi will stay”.

The Lotus boss believes Red Bull’s mentioning of Raikkonen may have been a tactic to deflect attention from the row between Webber and Sebastian Vettel after the Malaysian Grand Prix.

“Kimi’s position is going to be based on a bunch of things and not on what Red Bull say – I think they have their hands full right now.”

Speculation continues to surround Webber’s future at the team. Rumors over the weekend that he had signed a five-year contract with Porsche to race for their new LMP1 team from next year were denied by the German manufacturer.

Webber raced sportscars for Mercedes before making his Formula One debut.

Josef Newgarden wins pole for Grand Prix of Alabama

Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images
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With time running off the clock, Josef Newgarden lapped Barber Motorsports Park with a speed of 122.773 mph to win his third career pole and first on this track in the Grand Prix of Alabama.

Newgarden was .0128 seconds faster than teammate Scott Dixon in second.

Newgarden has two previous wins at Barber. He won last year’s edition of this race after starting seventh and in 2015 from fifth.

“I didn’t know if that was going to be enough,” Newgarden said after winning the pole.

“Team Chevy has done a good job,” Newgarden said. “They’ve really given us good power this weekend – good driveability. We’re going to need some fuel mileage tomorrow, which I think we’ll have. But it’s going to get mixed up with the rain.”

Fast 12

Newgarden topped this chart with a speed of 123.475 mph.

He brought Power, James Hinchcliffe, Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Sebastien Bourdais along with him to the Fast 6.

Marco Andretti (122.480 mph), Alexander Rossi (122.216), Simon Pagenaud (122.050), Robert Wickens (122.042), Zach Veach (121.784) and Ed Jones (120.984) failed to advance.

Round 1, Group 1

Newgarden posted the fastest single lap in round one, group one of qualification for the Grand Prix of Alabama with a speed of 122.550 mph.

Hunter-Reay, Hinchcliffe, Wickens, and Andretti also advance to the fast 12.

Taking the final slot was Jones with a speed of 119.835 after an off-course excursion in final practice.

This was Andretti’s first advancement to the fast 12 for the first time since 2014.

Round 1, Group 2

Power had the fastest lap of 121.570 mph

Bourdais, Veach (who is battling food poisoning-like symptoms), Rossi, and Pagenaud grabbed positions 2-4.

Scott Dixon had an uncharacteristically slow lap of 121.006, but managed to advance to the fast 12 when the session was red-flagged for an incident involving Tony Kanaan.

With three minutes remaining, Kanaan spun into the tire barriers while leaving pit road. Since he brought out the red flag, he lost his qualification time of 119.996 mph.

Takuma Sato had slipped off-course midway through the session and posted only the Ninth-fastest speed of 120.789 mph.