Lewis Hamilton takes Spanish GP pole as Alonso stars at home

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Lewis Hamilton edged out early Formula 1 championship rival Sebastian Vettel in qualfying for Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix to take his third pole position of the season.

Hamilton arrived in Barcelona trailing Vettel by 13 points in the drivers’ championship, but took a big step towards cutting his lead with a charge to pole in Q3.

The Briton’s first Q3 lap of 1:19.149 was good enough for pole, with Vettel’s final effort in qualifying saw him fall 0.051 seconds shy, leaving the German to settle for second place.

Vettel’s qualifying very nearly ended in Q1 when Ferrari told him to stop on-track after an engine issue, the team having replaced the power unit in his car following final practice.

Vettel was able to resolve the problem in the car and went on to set some quick laps, allowing him to outqualifying Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes, the Finn ending Q3 in third place. Kimi Raikkonen followed in P4, 0.29s off Hamilton’s time.

Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo took P5 and P6 for Red Bull, but one of the stand-out stories of qualifying was Fernando Alonso’s charge to P7 for McLaren.

Amid ongoing problems with the Honda power unit used by the team, Alonso dug deep and was able to beat Sergio Perez, Felipe Massa and Esteban Ocon, who rounded out the top 10.

Haas’ updates for the VF-17 car failed to give it the boost in one-lap pace the team had hoped for as Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean qualified 11th and 14th respectively. Grosjean’s final run was lost when he went off-track in the final sector, spurning the chance to get up into Q3. Carlos Sainz Jr. qualified 12th for Toro Rosso ahead of Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg.

Sauber managed to get one of its cars through to Q2 as Pascal Wehrlein qualified P15, edging out teammate Marcus Ericsson by just 0.005 seconds to leave the Swede 16th on the grid.

Jolyon Palmer and Lance Stroll struggled to match their respective teammates at Renault and Williams, finishing 17th and 18th, while Stoffel Vandoorne’s Q1 misery continued as he was eliminated at the first hurdle for the fifth race in a row, qualifying 19th. Daniil Kvyat propped up the order in P20 for Toro Rosso.

The Spanish Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 7am ET on Sunday.

Haas F1 driver Romain Grosjean to launch cookbook

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Haas Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean may be one of the sport’s most promising talents on-track, but he also has a burning passion off it: cooking.

Grosjean may have been spent a good part of this year cooking his brakes, but you’ll now be able to cook bakes instead…

F1’s resident foodie is set to release a cookbook alongside wife Marion Jolles in the coming weeks, as announced on his Facebook page.

Grosjean currently sits 13th in the F1 drivers’ championship with 18 points to his name, helping Haas to match the points total from its debut season after just 10 races in 2017.

Mercedes F1 engine chief warns against underestimating Honda

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Mercedes Formula 1 engine chief Andy Cowell has warned against underestimating the threat of Honda despite its ongoing power unit struggles, tipping the Japanese manufacturer to bounce back in the near future.

Honda returned to F1 as a manufacturer in 2015, supplying V6 turbo power units to the McLaren team, but has struggled for either performance or reliability through that period.

The struggles have led McLaren – currently sat bottom of the constructors’ championship – to consider cutting ties for 2018 given how far adrift compared to the other three engine suppliers Honda has been.

Mercedes has been the benchmark for engine performance since the change in regulation for 2014, but Cowell feels that Honda could make up ground quickly, with the removal of the token system for 2017 helping performance to converge through the field.

“I think collectively we’ve helped with convergence in Formula 1 in the opening season, performance development through the year,” Cowell said.

“But then the opportunity to do a big change with Honda coming in, we all agreed that Honda could have that same opportunity to change everything in the first year and then the request came from manufacturers in addition to Honda saying ‘please can we take this crazy token table away because it’s bad for the sport?’

“It’s bad if somebody can’t train to get better and so we agreed, yeah, take the table away because it’s better for the sport because it means that you can innovate, you can introduce whatever you like.

“I think none of us should underestimate the technical prowess of Honda and of McLaren and I think my money is on that combination coming good and coming good pretty quickly. No pressure…”

Williams happy to ‘hold off’ on 2018 F1 driver decision

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Williams is happy to “hold off” on making a decision on its Formula 1 driver line-up for 2018 as it focuses on improving its on-track displays after a tough start to the season.

Williams currently fields Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll, a mix of experience and youth, but has failed to keep up with midfield front-runner Force India through the first half of the year.

Force India sits fourth in the constructors’ championship with more than double the points of Williams, who leads a tight-knit group down to Renault in eighth place, 15 points adrift.

While Stroll looks set to continue with Williams and Massa has hinted he may look to continue through to 2018 despite initially planning to retire at the end of last season, deputy team boss Claire Williams has confirmed that no decision about next year’s line-up will come any time soon.

“There’s a lot of talk already isn’t there, about drivers across the paddock. For us, we’ve decided we’re going to hold off a bit on our driver decision,” Williams said.

“We’ve got a fight on our hands on the race track at the moment and to be distracted by those kinds of conversations isn’t something that we want to be happening at the moment.

“[Force India’s] got a nice points haul on us at the moment we need to focus on, rather than anything else.”

Nico Rosberg visits Stanford University, considering study options

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2016 Formula 1 world champion Nico Rosberg is considering study options at Stanford University after visiting the college earlier this week as part of his tour around California.

Rosberg sensationally announced his retirement from F1 just five days after winning his maiden world title last November, wanting to spend more time with his young family.

The German has been enjoying his retirement, recently embarking on a tour of Silicon Valley and California that saw him hold meetings with electric car giant Tesla, among other companies.

In a video posted to his Twitter account on Sunday, Rosberg spoke warmly about a visit to Stanford, revealing that he is considering some study options in the near future at the historic institution.

Rosberg was previously offered a scholarship to study engineering at Imperial College London when he was younger, only to turn it down in order to embark on a racing career. He also reportedly holds the highest ever score on Williams’ engineering aptitude test.

Should Nico sign up to a course at Stanford, we imagine he’d take things one class at a time…