Nico Rosberg wins inaugural FIA Pole Trophy in Brazil

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After claiming his tenth pole position of the season today in Brazil, Nico Rosberg has clinched the inaugural FIA Pole Trophy by establishing himself as the top qualifier in Formula 1 this year.

The German driver posted a fastest lap time of 1:10.023 to finish just 0.033 seconds clear of teammate and championship rival Lewis Hamilton at the end of Q3, securing his tenth pole position of the year.

With Hamilton having started on pole position just seven times, he cannot match Rosberg’s tally with just one race remaining in Abu Dhabi.

The FIA introduced the award in an attempt to offer the drivers more of an incentive towards the end of the season in light of Sebastian Vettel’s dominance in 2013. This has been offset somewhat by the close battle between Rosberg and Hamilton for the drivers’ championship, though.

Nevertheless, Rosberg is the first winner of the trophy, but he is now focusing on securing his first race win since the German Grand Prix in July on Sunday.

“A perfect job only if it works out tomorrow,” Rosberg said in the post-session press conference. “Up to now it has been going well. It’s the best place to be for tomorrow, but of course I need to make it happen in the race unlike Austin, for example.”

In Austin, Rosberg failed to win the race from pole position, losing the lead to Hamilton at the halfway point and failing to repass his teammate, ultimately being forced to settle for second place.

However, he said that he does not feel under pressure despite trailing Hamilton by 24 points at the top of the drivers’ championship.

“It’s pretty much similar,” Rosberg said when asked about the pressure. “The adrenaline is there, the tension, the excitement. It’s not been changing that much. I’m just here going for it, pushing myself to stay optimistic all the time.

“Naturally I am optimistic also, so learn from Austin. I know what I need to do better, so from that point of view I’m good to go for tomorrow.”

Hunter McElrea wins Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 Scholarship

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Hunter McElrea bested 18 competitors to win the third annual Road to Indy USF2000 $200,000 Scholarship Shootout on Sunday at Bondurant Racing School in Chandler, Ariz.

The two-day contest featured on-track competition in Formula Mazda cars as well as interview sessions and assessment from a panel of judges.

“I can’t believe it,” McElrea said at IndyCar.com. “This is definitely the most exciting opportunity that I have had in my racing career. I cannot thank Mazda and everyone enough for making this possible for me. The fact that I am going to be on the grid next year thanks to them is a dream come true.

“They have given me the opportunity to prove myself in such a high level that I never even thought I would be able to reach. I have to thank Andersen Promotions, Cooper tires, all of the judges, everyone from Mazda, the Bondurant Racing School and the other competitors, who literally pushed me to the limit.

“I am just so happy. It is still sinking in, but I just can’t wait to get next year started, and I’ll be representing Mazda in that nice Soul Red USF2000 car.”

MORE: Michael Carter wins Mazda Road to 24 shootout

The 19-year-old McElrea was born in California, but reared in Australia.

As a result of winning the award, McElrea will compete in the 2019 season of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, the first rung of the Mazda Road to Indy development ladder.

McElrea won the Australian Formula Ford Championship this year on the strength of 13 victories in 21 races.

Early competition resulted in a final field of six drivers that included Jake Craig, Michael Eastwell, Braden Eves, Flinn Lazier and Ross Martin. They competed in a qualification session and 30-minute simulated race. McElrea won that race.

“Today was an incredible day,” said Tom Long, Mazda Motorsports factory driver and one of the judges. “There was so much talent here for the shootout. Hunter McElrea just rose to the top when it was time to shine, but our decision was very, very difficult.

“In the end, given all of the circumstances, we were able to make a pretty good decision and we are really, really proud of not only Hunter but our whole team here with Mazda to be able to grant this $200,000 scholarship for his opportunity in USF2000 next year.”