Vettel rockets to Hungarian GP pole, Ferrari locks out front row

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Sebastian Vettel turned in the fastest ever lap of the Hungaroring to lead Ferrari to its third pole of the 2017 Formula 1 season in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Vettel was able to carry his solid FP3 pace through to qualifying and grab his third pole in Ferrari colors, edging out Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen at the top of the timesheets.

A fastest lap of 1:16.276 saw Vettel send out a warning shot to championship rival Lewis Hamilton, who struggled with a vibration on his tires and could only qualify fourth for Mercedes behind teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Red Bull struggled to replicate its Friday practice pace, finishing fifth and sixth with Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, while Nico Hulkenberg led Renault’s charge in P7.

McLaren lived up to its expectations of showing a better pace in Hungary by taking its best Saturday result of the year, qualifying eighth and ninth with Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne. Carlos Sainz Jr. rounded out the top 10 for Toro Rosso.

Jolyon Palmer put in one of his strongest qualifying displays of the season so far, narrowly missing out on a Q3 berth in P11, helping to ease some of the pressure he faces at Renault.

Force India suffered a double knockout in Q2 as Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez qualified P12 and P14 respectively, split by Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat. Romain Grosjean ailed to 15th for Haas, struggling under braking on his final flying lap.

Kevin Magnussen was knocked out in Q1 despite setting the exact same time as Perez, who advanced to Q2, acting as a tough break for the Dane in P16. Lance Stroll finished 17th for Williams ahead of Sauber’s Pascal Wehrlein, who complained of traffic during a late hot lap as he pushed to make it through.

Surprise super-sub Paul di Resta managed to qualify for his first F1 race since the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix, with Q1 providing his maiden run in a 2017-spec car.

Stepping in for the unwell Felipe Massa at Williams, di Resta finished 19th ahead of Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson, but was able to rack up some important laps and finish within the required 107 per cent of the fastest Q1 lap.

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

PWC confirms 2018 season finale at Watkins Glen

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Pirelli World Challenge will end its 2018 season at Watkins Glen International, the series confirmed Friday.

The exciting finale will feature traditional 50-minute sprints for GT and GTS classes and 40-minute features for Touring Car classes.

The last PWC event at Watkins Glen was held in 2010 with sports car greats Ron Fellows (GT) and Peter Cunningham (GTS) winning the top two events and Robert Stout claiming the Touring Car race. The Pirelli World Challenge series premiered at Watkins Glen International in 1992 and has featured eight PWC years (1992, 1996-1998, 2007-2010) at the famed New York road racing facility.

“We couldn’t be more excited to welcome Pirelli World Challenge competitors, officials, leadership, and fans to Watkins Glen International in 2018,” said Michael Printup, Watkins Glen International President. “This series features fantastic wheel-to-wheel racing across a wide spectrum of sportscar classes and our fans are in for a treat on Labor Day weekend next year.”

In addition to the Watkins Glen season finale, the Pirelli World Challenge also announced its race lineup for 2018 with the GT/GTA/GT Cup divisions again being split into five GT Sprint (50 minutes) and five GT SprintX (60 minutes, two drivers) races. The GTS events, featuring GT4 machinery, will remain nine-weekends with a total of 18 50-minute Sprint rounds while Touring Car divisions will contest 40-minute Sprints in the class’ 12-race, six-weekend campaign.

The GT Sprint championships will be contested in the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., and Long Beach, Calif., as well as at the permanent road circuits of Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Road America and Watkins Glen. The GT SprintX championship will be campaigned at Circuit of the Americas (COTA), VIRginia International Raceway, Lime Rock Park, Portland International Raceway and Utah Motorsports Campus.

Details on the 2018 race regulations for GT Sprint and GT SprintX events will be announced in the near future, including the new pit stop requirements and other amendments to competition rules.

Featuring the GT3 and GT4 categories, the second annual SRO Intercontinental GT Challenge California 8 Hours is set to return to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Oct. 26-28.

2018 Pirelli World Challenge Schedule

Date, Track (Classes)

March 9-11, Streets of St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg, Fla. (GT Sprint and GTS)
March 23-25, Circuit Of The Americas (COTA), Austin, Texas (GT SprintX, GTS and Touring Car)
April 13-15, Streets of Long Beach Long Beach, Calif. (GT Sprint)
April 28-30, VIRginia International Raceway Alton, Va., (GT SprintX, GTS and Touring Car)
May 18-20, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park Bowmanville, Ont., CAN, (GT Sprint and GTS)
May 25-26 -28, Lime Rock Park Lakeville, Conn., (GT SprintX, GTS and Touring Car)
June 22-24 Road America Elkhart Lake, Wis., (GT Sprint and GTS)
July 13-15, Portland International Raceway Portland, Ore., (GT SprintX, GTS and Touring Car)
August 10-12, Utah Motorsports Campus Grantsville, Utah, (GT SprintX, GTS and Touring Car)
Aug. 31-Sept. 1-2 Watkins Glen International Watkins Glen, N.Y., (GT Sprint, GTS and Touring Car)

Special Event

SRO Intercontinental GT Challenge, California 8 Hours
October 26-28, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Salinas, Calif.