Report: FIA WEC could add Montreal race for 2015

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Having searched for several years now to find a second major motorsport event, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve may be on the verge of landing a 2015 round of the FIA World Endurance Championship.

According to the French-language Le Journal de Montreal, talks have begun about a possible WEC event at CGV, which annually serves as the home of Formula One’s Canadian Grand Prix.

However, CGV has been lacking a second event to compliment the F1 race since 2012, when the NASCAR Nationwide Series left Montreal after a six-year run.

An event in Canada could make for a North American “swing” with the series’ U.S. round at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

Or it may very well become the lone WEC race on the continent depending on whether or not COTA can draw more of a crowd.

Last year, when the WEC ran together with the now-defunct American Le Mans Series, reportedly less than 8,000 people among the overall weekend attendance of 35,000 took in the WEC’s six-hour event.

COTA is scheduled to host the WEC and the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship again this September as part of the “Lone Star Le Mans” weekend.

Back in March, WEC head Gerard Neveu indicated that he’d like his series to start expanding its presence in North America but that any potential opportunities would have to make sense.

“We don’t want to make one more date just to do one more date,” he said during the WEC’s preseason test sessions according to SportsCar365. “We have to do one more date if there is a very good opportunity.

“It means a good race track, good market, good fan base, good financial interest, good media interest and good interest for the manufacturers.

“I will not add a date on a very small island in the middle of the Pacific because they pay a lot. It doesn’t make sense. The idea is to find a fair destination for everybody.”

Valtteri Bottas takes pole position for season-opening Austrian GP

Leonhard Foeger/Pool via Getty Images
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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas upstaged Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to take pole position Saturday for the Formula One Austrian GP.

The Finnish driver edged out the world champion by 0.012 seconds to claim the top spot for the season opener at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg. He clenched his fist as he climbed out of his car and shared a hug with Hamilton.

“It’s something special when you push the car to the limit,” said Bottas, who is chasing an eighth career win. “Feels so good. It’s very impressive (from the team).”

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was third, and Lando Norris gave McLaren a boost by finishing fourth. Verstappen has won the past two years here, including 2019 when he started third behind Hamilton and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

“It’s going to be interesting quite a bit warmer tomorrow and hopefully this will play to our advantage,” Verstappen said. “Today, Mercedes was on a different level, unfortunately. Last year we were also a little bit off in qualifying so I expect we will be a bit better in the race.”

Bottas had the leading time when drivers embarked on their final laps and beat his own mark before sliding off the track into the gravel.

Hamilton was chasing a record-extending 89th career pole. He was ahead but then dropped off slightly as Bottas secured a 12th career pole.

“Great job by Valtteri. It’s a great start to the season,” Hamilton said. “We show year on year that we continue to be the best team. We’re open-minded … constantly learning from each other and pushing the boundaries.”

Ferrari struggled for speed, with Leclerc nearly one second behind in seventh and Sebastian Vettel failing to make it into the third and final part of qualifying, known as Q3. He starts the race from 11th on the grid.

Vettel is leaving Ferrari at the end of the season with his future in F1 uncertain.

Earlier, Hamilton posted the fastest time in morning practice. The 35-year-old British driver was also quickest in both sessions on Friday.

Midway through third practice, F1 newcomer Nicholas Latifi misjudged the exit of a turn and spun his Williams car into a protective tire wall.