Rosberg rockets to United States GP pole in Austin

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Nico Rosberg has stormed to pole position for the 2014 United States Grand Prix after beating teammate Lewis Hamilton when it mattered in the final part of Q3 in Austin today.

Hamilton had dominated practice at the Circuit of The Americas, but fell three-tenths of a second short when it mattered at the end of Q3 after Rosberg produced a stunning lap time of 1:36.067 to claim his ninth pole position of the year.

After a cold morning in Austin, conditions began to warm up as qualifying got underway. Most of the drivers opted to head out in Q1 with the medium compound tire fitted at first, with some of the slower runners opting to immediately take up the pace advantage in the session. This allowed Sergio Perez and Adrian Sutil to move into the top ten early on, but for their fastest laps, all of the drivers were on the option tire.

At the very front of the field, it was business as usual for Mercedes as Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton went P1 and P2 at the halfway stage in Q1. Ultimately, it was Hamilton who won out, finishing six-tenths of a second clear of the field.

Sebastian Vettel will be starting tomorrow’s race from the pit lane, meaning that qualifying was essentially a glorified practice session for the defending world champion. He eventually finished Q1 down in 17th place, having spent the majority of the session sat in the pits.

Jean-Eric Vergne did his hopes of being retained by Toro Rosso little good by qualifying 15th and dropping out in Q1. The Frenchman was joined by his compatriot, Romain Grosjean, and Esteban Gutierrez in the dropzone. Both Pastor Maldonado and Adrian Sutil managed to get through to Q2 with relative ease in spite of their struggles this year.

Mercedes continued to lead the way during the second part of qualifying, with Nico Rosberg setting the early pace despite complaining over oversteer on his car. Hamilton ran him close with his first run, falling two-tenths of a second short due to locking up under braking.

The problem persisted for Hamilton, forcing him to take to the pits and lose his second run. Rosberg managed to find another eighth-tenths of a second though, giving him an advantage of almost one second come the end of the session.

After impressing in Q1, Sutil and Maldonado continued their good form in Q2 to finish 10th and 11th respectively. Although this meant Maldonado did not advance to the final session, he still secured his best qualifying result of the season, finishing ahead of Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg and Daniil Kvyat. With a 10-place grid penalty for an engine change, Kvyat will start the race from the back of the grid.

The final fight for pole position saw Rosberg take the early advantage, going 0.161 seconds faster than Hamilton with his first lap in Q3. The German driver went faster in all three sectors to pull clear of his teammate and put himself on provisional pole, with Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa over half a second adrift in third and fourth place for Williams.

On his final flying lap, Rosberg managed to go fastest of all in each of the three sectors at COTA to pull out another two-tenths of a second on Hamilton, leaving the Briton helpless. He was unable to improve, meaning that he finished some three-tenths of a second adrift of his teammate.

Williams’ strong qualifying form continued in Austin as Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa locked out the second row of the grid in third and fourth place, finishing ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.

The McLaren duo of Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen qualified seventh and eighth place respectively, but the former will drop five places on the grid due to a grid penalty. Kimi Raikkonen and Adrian Sutil rounded out the top ten in Austin, with this being the latter’s best qualifying result since the 2013 British Grand Prix.

After a difficult run of form, Nico Rosberg was delighted to secure his ninth pole position of the season in Austin, beating his teammate soundly when it mattered. Hamilton may have enjoyed the advantage in practice, but qualifying was all about Rosberg.

Of course, there are no points awarded on a Saturday though, and the stage is set for a thrilling battle between Rosberg and Hamilton in Austin on Sunday in the United States Grand Prix.

NBC/NBCSN SCHEDULE FROM UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10-3 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 7 p.m. to USA Network. Peacock will have flag-to-flag coverage.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III