Williams best of the rest once again in qualifying

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As Mercedes scored its ninth pole position in ten races through Nico Rosberg, Williams once again proved itself to be the ‘best of the rest’ by qualifying second and third at Hockenheim.

Following Lewis Hamilton’s crash in Q1, Rosberg looked set to go unchallenged en route to pole position. Valtteri Bottas did give him a brief scare late on, but the Finn was happy to settle for second place, feeling that he could have not gone any quicker.

“Yeah, today we must be really happy with the result we got, second and third, well done to everyone,” Bottas said after the session on Saturday. “I think Mercedes is still ahead, but the lap I had at the end was no mistakes and a really nice lap, so really felt I got everything out of the car.”

For Felipe Massa, third place was almost a disappointment as he struggled to get a lap together during qualifying, but he is still happy to be fighting at the front alongside Bottas.

“I think I was struggling to put the lap together,” he said. “I had some movement from the tires and I was not able to have a perfect car, just to put all the sectors together.

“I was able to do one sector better in one way, the other sector better in the other way. The car was not 100 per cent perfect in terms of set-up to put the perfect lap and Valtteri did really a very good lap.

“But anyway I’m still quite happy with the result and I’m quite happy with our car and for sure in the race the conditions are completely different, the feeling of the car as well is different, so let’s try to a very good job tomorrow as well.”

Williams is currently enjoying a revival following a difficult period in the history of the team. Last season, Bottas and former driver Pastor Maldonado could score just five points in total, leaving the team ninth in the constructors’ and as the lowest-ranked scoring team.

This year though, everything has changed. Massa started on pole in Austria, leading an all-Williams front row, whilst Bottas has finished on the podium in the last two races. You would have to think that if Mercedes hits trouble in Germany as it did in Canada, this time it would be Williams who could pick up the pieces.

Valiant efforts from Hunter-Reay, Dixon come up just short at Road America

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Ryan Hunter-Reay and Scott Dixon drove about as hard as they possibly could during Sunday’s KOHLER Grand Prix, and they both drove nearly perfect races.

Hunter-Reay took advantage of Will Power’s engine issues on the start to immediately jump into second, and stalked pole sitter and leader Josef Newgarden from there, often staying within only a couple car lengths of his gearbox.

Dixon, meanwhile, had a tougher chore after qualifying a disappointing 12th. Further, he was starting in the same lane as Will Power, and when Power had engine issues when the green flag waved, Dixon was one of several drivers who was swamped in the aftermath.

Scott Dixon had to come from deep in the field on Sunday’s KOHLER Grand Prix. Photo: IndyCar

However, as is his style, he quietly worked his way forward, running sixth after the opening round of pit stops, and then working his way up to third after the second round of stops.

It all meant that, after Lap 30, Newgarden, Hunter-Reay, and Dixon were nose-to-tail at the front, with the latter two in position to challenge for the win.

Yet, neither was able to do so. Hunter-Reay never got close enough to try to pass Newgarden, while Dixon couldn’t do so on either Hunter-Reay or Newgarden. And, neither driver went longer in their final stint – Dixon was actually the first of that group to pit, doing so on Lap 43, with Hunter-Reay and Newgarden pitting together one lap later.

And Newgarden pulled away in the final stint, winning by over three seconds, leaving Hunter-Reay and Dixon to finish second and third.

It was a somewhat bitter pill to swallow, with Hunter-Reay noting that he felt like he had enough to challenge for a win.

“I felt like we had the pace for (Newgarden), especially in the first two stints,” he asserted. “I really felt like it was going to be a really good race between us. Whether it be first, second, third, fourth stint – I didn’t know when it was going to come.”

He added that, if he could do it over again, he would have been more aggressive and tried to pass Newgarden in the opening stint.

“In hindsight, I should have pressured him a bit more in the first stint,” Hunter-Reay lamented. “We were focused on a fuel number at the time. Unfortunately that Penske fuel number comes into play, can’t really go hard.”

Dixon, meanwhile, expressed more disappointment in the result, asserting that qualifying better would have put him in a possibly race-winning position.

“I think had we started a little further up, we could have had a good shot at trying to fight for the win today,” he expressed.

The disappointment for Dixon also stems from the knowledge that his No. 9 PNC Bank Honda had the pace to win, especially longer into a run.

“The car was pretty good on the long stint,” he asserted. “I think for us the saving grace was probably the black tire stint two. We closed a hefty gap there. We were able to save fuel early in the first stint, which enabled us to go a lap longer than everybody, had the overcut for the rest of the race.

“I think speed-wise we were right there. Had a bit of a crack at Hunter-Reay on his out lap on the last stint there, but cooked it too much going into (Turn 14), got a bit loose, lost momentum. That would have been really the only chance of passing him.”

Dixon remains in the championship lead, however, by 45 points, while Hunter-Reay moved up to second, tied with Andretti Autosport teammate Alexander Rossi.

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