Sauber rue “weekend to forget” after double retirement

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Sauber branded the Canadian Grand Prix a “weekend to forget” after both their drivers failed to take the checkered flag.

Nico Hulkenberg collided with Caterham’s Giedo van der Garde while lapping him and both sustained race-ending damage.

And although Esteban Gutierrez was among the classified finishers he crashed while exiting the pit lane seven laps from home. He had been trying to complete the race with a single pit stop but found the tire degradation was too severe and had to make a late pit stop.

Head of track engineering Tom McCullough said the team had expected a difficult weekend: “The circuit’s characteristics were going to make it a hard day for our car.”

“Ultimately it was a double DNF, which is very disappointing. On the strategy side we attempted a one stop with Esteban and a two stop with Nico, which was the base strategy today.

“But ultimately the tire degradation and wear were too high for Esteban, so we had to convert to a two stopper late in the race and unfortunately he had the incident exiting the pits.”

Van der Garde was ruled to be at fault in the collision with Hulkenberg, the stewards noting he had taken a lap to let the Sauber driver pass him. “Lapping can be troublesome, but these guys are racing too and have things happenings in the race, the same as us,” said Hulkenberg.

“I lapped Giedo van der Garde and braked. At first I didn’t feel anything until I came out of the corner and realized the car wasn’t going straight, so we decided to stop.”

Josef Newgarden wins pole for Grand Prix of Alabama

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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.”

Dixon’s lap of 122.750 mph was not quite enough.

“I’m sure you could pick out a number of different things on a lap when it’s that close,” Power said about what made the slight difference between him and Newgarden. “A little mistake out of 9; a little lift here or there.”

Sebastien Bourdais (122.605 mph) qualified third, with Ryan Hunter-Reay (122.159) and James Hinchliffe (121.859) rounding out the top five.

Scott Dixon was the last driver in the top six.

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), 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 mph 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.