Webber: A ‘hollow’ pole position

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Mark Webber has said that pole position for this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix feels slightly “hollow” after teammate Sebastian Vettel encountered a KERS problem in Q3.

However, the Australian has said that he is happy to have grabbed the opportunity with both hands to score his first pole of the season, with his last start from P1 being at last year’s Korean Grand Prix.

“Sebastian had a problem in qualifying, so a little bit of a hollow pole position if you like, because he still did a phenomenal lap, but I’m happy to be on pole,” Webber explained. “You’ve got to grab the opportunities when you can and still put the laps in.”

Webber was also pleased to have claimed pole position in his final Japanese Grand Prix ahead of his retirement at the end of the season. Webber joins a list of illustrious names including Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Michael Schumacher and Nigel Mansell who have all started on pole at Suzuka.

“Very, very nice farewell for me to have pole here on my last attempt at Suzuka on a really phenomenal circuit,” Webber said after qualifying. “I’ll never forget the first sector today. That’s what us guys strive for and yeah, our profession is all about that so it was a real highlight for a lot of us out there today.”

Webber’s pole position is Red Bull’s fifth in a row at Suzuka, and it also sees Renault overtake Ferrari for the record number of pole positions for an engine supplier. He will be hoping to convert this into his first win of the season tomorrow as the Australian driver looks to bow out of the sport in the best possible fashion.

Power, Newgarden, Dixon fastest in first of 2 IndyCar practices today at Barber Motorsports Park

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Will Power was fastest in Friday’s first of two IndyCar practice sessions at Barber Motorsports Park.

Power covered the 2.3-mile permanent road course in 1:07.5987 minutes at 122.488 mph in the 45-minute practice session.

Even though he spun off the course during his session, Phoenix winner Josef Newgarden still managed to be second-fastest (121.919 mph at 1:07.9141 minutes), followed by Scott Dixon (121.296 mph/1:082627), Max Chilton (121.251 mph/1:08.2882) and Ed Jones (121.215 mph/1:09.5692).

 

Sixth through 10th were Simon Pagenaud (121.208 mph/1:08.3122), Jordan King (121.113 mph/1:083661), Graham Rahal (121.059 mph/1:08.3964), St. Petersburg winner Sebastien Bourdais (121.029 mph/1:08.4131) and rookie Zach Veach (121.014 mph/1:08.4216).

Here’s the full speed chart:

Incidents:

* Early in the session, Long Beach winner Alexander Rossi ran off the track and into the grass, striking a small sign, but was able to get back on-track. However, Rossi was only able to complete 10 laps, relegating him to 20th-fastest in the 23-car field.

* Moments later, it appeared the rear brakes locked up on Newgarden heading into Turn 5, spinning him into the gravel trap. He was able to get going and returned to the pits for service and was back on-track with less than four minutes remaining in the session.

ALSO OF NOTE:

* The second practice session of the day will begin at 3:50 p.m. ET. A third practice will take part Saturday morning at 10:50 a.m. ET, followed by qualifying beginning at 4:05 p.m. ET. The race, to be televised live Sunday on NBCSN, is slated to start at 3:30 p.m. ET.

* However, weather forecast does not look promising for Sunday’s race. As of 1 p.m. ET today, the forecast calls for 100 percent rain throughout the day.

* Dixon has had an incredible record at Barber Motorsports Park, with seven podium finishes in eight starts there. Except for one thing: he has yet to win a race there. But he does have five runner-up and two other third-place showings on the permanent road course.

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