Maldonado and Bottas reflect on difficult day

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Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas have both been left frustrated following Friday’s practice sessions ahead of this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

The Williams drivers have endured a difficult season so far, scoring just a solitary point between them, and although Maldonado showed signs of improved pace during the first session today, the Venezuelan driver has called on the team to up their game.

“It is quite difficult to put a lap together as there is some inconsistency in how the car behaves through different corners, but we will see where we are tomorrow as the track is changing a lot,” he explained. “We weren’t able to improve our time too much this afternoon so we need to work harder to make sure we are better tomorrow.”

Maldonado finished ninth and fourteenth in FP1 and FP2 respectively, ahead of teammate Bottas who could only finish sixteenth and eighteenth at Monza today. The Finn echoed Maldonado’s thoughts, also identifying “inconsistencies” in the pace of the FW35 car.

“It wasn’t an easy day today,” Bottas said. “We had some inconsistencies in the aerodynamics during FP1 and then in FP2 we were missing quite a lot of straight-line speed on my option tire run. We need to look at why that happened as that is why the time doesn’t look so good on the board.”

However, he is pleased that the team appears to be challenging closest-rivals Sauber and Toro Rosso, boding well for the race on Sunday.

“The positive thing today was the long run as we were competitive compared to Toro Rosso and Sauber and I think we can really challenge them in the race this weekend.”

The high-speed nature of the circuit is expected to suit the FW35 car, but Williams will need to up their game if they are to challenge for points in the final European round of the season.

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.

Results are below. The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama rolls off at 3:00 p.m. ET.