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Vinales takes Mugello MotoGP pole, Rossi second despite injuries

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Maverick Viñales picked up his third MotoGP pole position of the season on Saturday after edging out home favorite Valentino Rossi in qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello.

Viñales arrived in Italy leading the riders’ championship by 17 points following his victory from pole position two weeks ago at Le Mans, and continued to turn the screw on his rivals by once again leading the way on Saturday at Mugello.

Viñales turned in a fastest lap of 1:46.575 to finish two-tenths of a second clear of Yamaha teammate Rossi, who took second on the grid despite riding with injuries sustained in a motocross accident late last month.

Andrea Dovizioso led Ducati’s charge in third place, 0.021 seconds back from Rossi, while wildcard teammate Michele Pirro took fourth on the grid for his one-off appearance this season.

Dani Pedrosa qualified fifth for Repsol Honda ahead of teammate Marc Marquez, with three-time champion Jorge Lorenzo finishing the session seventh. Alvaro Bautista ended Q2 eighth on the Aspar Ducati, with Danilo Petrucci and Tito Rabat rounding out the top 10.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.