Maldonado charges to best F1 qualifying result of 2014

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Pastor Maldonado has his best chance of the year to score some points in tomorrow’s United States Grand Prix after qualifying in 11th place on Saturday at the Circuit of The Americas.

The Lotus driver produced an impressive pace in the first session to ease through to Q2, and fell less than one-tenth of a second shy of making it into the top ten.

He will however start the race from 10th place due to Jenson Button’s five-place grid penalty.

“It wasn’t too bad, much better than usual,” Maldonado said when asked about his qualifying performance by MotorSportsTalk. “We did our best. It seems like the car is much better here. This is positive, especially looking forward to the next season.

“Maybe it’s a step forwards, maybe we are learning more about the car, maybe the track is better for our car. I think we worked quite well. The car as you know is not the most competitive one in the paddock. I tried to pull that altogether. Today in FP3 we were quite competitive, so not too bad. I’m quite happy.”

However, Maldonado refused to say with certainty that he will be in the race for points tomorrow given that he has failed to score any points so far this year, but he feels that he is in a strong position to break this duck in Austin.

“Let’s do our best,” he said. “Races are never down to one side. We need to value what is going on around with other people, the other teams’ strategies are very important now. It seems like it’s going to be more than one stop not as usual. We’ll see tomorrow.

“The track is getting better and better, which is better strategy-wise. We are in a good position for tires, which is quite positive, so we’ll see.”

Maldonado’s teammate, Romain Grosjean, will start the race from P16 after failing to make it out of Q1 in Austin.

NBC/NBCSN SCHEDULE FROM UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX

Tempers flare as Graham Rahal, Sebastien Bourdais collide at Indy

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INDIANAPOLIS — A multicar crash with just over 20 laps remaining in the Indianapolis 500 had tempers flaring Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Graham Rahal angrily confronted Sebastien Bourdais after the two collided while racing for position entering the third turn. As they spun beside each other, Rahal threw his hands up in the air and continued to gesture wildly at Bourdais as their cars came to a stop.

Rahal scrambled out of his car and went directly to Bourdais’ cockpit to scream at the driver before the safety crew arrived. Rahal then yanked off his gloves and threw them in his car after punching the air a few times.

The crash began after Bourdais’ left rear tire hit Rahal’s right front as they entered the corner and Bourdais seemed to come down on Rahal’s line.

“I’m just very disappointed,” Rahal told NBC Sports after being released from the care center. “It’s just another year to sit and think about it. I respect Sebastien as a driver, but I don’t respect that move.

“At those speeds, that’s how you kill somebody. I’m just not a fan of squeezing and putting people in those positions.”

Bourdais climbed out of his car shortly afterward and seemed unhurt. He was cited for avoidable contact by the IndyCar stewards and seemed somewhat remorseful about the move in an interview with NBC Sports.

“I didn’t think he had as much of the car as he did,” Bourdais said. “It’s always a dynamic thing. He got a run, it stalled there for a while, we made contact, and it sets up the whole thing. At that point. I’m just trying to collect the whole thing. It’s always easy to say I should have given up going into the corner.”

Rahal and Bourdais were former teammates at Newman-Haas Raccing.

“He’s been struggling all day,” Rahal said. “I was lifting a little bit to manage my gap. You can see him squeezing me and turns into me, and there nothing you can do. With 20 to go, you have to go. I think Sebastien knows that, which is probably why he hasn’t said much to me.”

The race was red-flagged at 3:17 p.m. on Lap 180 of 200 to clean up the debris from the multicar pileup.