Lewis Hamilton “couldn’t be in a better place”

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Lewis Hamilton is feeling in good shape ahead of this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix, claiming that he couldn’t be better upon F1’s return to Europe.

The Briton has endured a tough season so far, being embroiled in a title fight with teammate Nico Rosberg. This appeared to spill over in Monaco, but since then, relations have improved and Hamilton is now feeling happy again.

“I’m great, excited,” he said, smiling. “Couldn’t be in a better place really. Had a good couple of weeks, and had a bit of a busy week this week, but I’m excited just to get back in the car. This is quite a relaxed weekend.”

However, he still believes that there is room for improvement at Mercedes as he looks to bounce back from a retirement at the Canadian Grand Prix. The non-score caused him to drop to 22 points behind Rosberg at the top of the drivers’ championship, but he still feels positive ahead of this weekend’s race.

“At the moment, knowing that we have a lot of races ahead of us, it’s not concerning me too much,” Hamilton said when asked about the DNF in Montreal. “Of course, if it was later on in the season and we were where we were, we would be a little bit different.

“In one sense, it’s comforting for me to know that I feel like I’ve done my optimum up until now, but there’s still room for improvement. And as a team, also, it’s in some ways positive for us to know that we can still improve.

“If we were perfect, then it wouldn’t be fun for the rest of the year.”

Hamilton is chasing his fifth win of the season in Austria this weekend, but only his first since the Spanish Grand Prix over a month ago.

Like all but four of the drivers in Canada, Hamilton has not raced in F1 at the Red Bull Ring before, but that should matter little in his fight for the race win on Sunday afternoon.

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

Fast 12

Josef Newgarden topped this chart with a speed of 123.475 mph.

He brought Will 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.