GP2: Vandoorne claims fourth straight pole position in Abu Dhabi

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ABU DHABI – McLaren junior driver Stoffel Vandoorne will start the final race of the 2014 GP2 Series season on pole position after edging out championship winner Jolyon Palmer in Abu Dhabi on Friday evening.

For the first time in GP2 history, a driver has secured four consecutive pole positions, with Vandoorne continuing his strong finish to the 2014 season at Yas Marina. His lap of 1:48.088 was good enough to secure him top spot on the timesheets, and allowed the ART driver to pit on his final flyer as the result was already secure.

Off the back of his title win in Russia, Palmer could only finish second, falling 0.099 seconds short of Vandoorne’s time. He will start ahead of DAMS teammate Stephane Richelmi and Russian Time’s Mitch Evans, who qualified in third and fourth place respectively.

Carlin’s Felipe Nasr ran well to qualify fifth in Abu Dhabi, but after losing out on the championship to Palmer in Russia, he now looks resigned to third place in the standings with Vandoorne just four points behind heading into tomorrow’s race.

Red Bull junior driver and Toro Rosso candidate Pierre Gasly enjoyed a strong result on Friday, qualifying sixth in Caterham Racing’s final race before its rebrand as Status Grand Prix for 2015. Arthur Pic starts seventh ahead of Raffaele Marciello and Stefano Coletti, with Rio Haryanto rounding out the top ten.

American driver Conor Daly returns for this weekend’s round in Abu Dhabi for Venezuela GP Lazarus, and will start from P20, having finished just three-tenths of a second shy of a top ten grid slot.

Valtteri Bottas on Silverstone pole; Nico Hulkenberg a surprising third

F1 Bottas Hamilton Silverstone
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Valtteri Bottas nipped Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in Silverstone qualifying Saturday to maintain the team’s hammerlock on F1 results this season while Nico Hulkenberg was a surprise in third.

Hulkenberg is filling in for Sergio Perez for the second consecutive race while the Racing Point driver recovers from coronavirus.

It’s the best F1 start since 2016 for Hulkenberg, who was left without a full-time ride after the 2019 season. He finished 20th at Silverstone last week when an engine problem on the grid prevented him ftaking the green.

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“The last seven to eight days have been crazy,” Hulkenberg said after qualifying. “This weekend I felt much better prepared. Q3 was just head down, full beans, and give it whatever I had.

“I’m a bit surprised to be standing here, but there’s a big smile on my face.”

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen qualified fourth and will be among the field trying to derail the Mercedes duo that has won the first four races of an F1 season delayed because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Feels good,” Bottas said after nipping Hamilton by a few hundredths of a second on his final lap for his 13th career pole position. ” I just love qualifying especially, when it goes well. Proud to drive this car. The race pace is there, so our first job is to get a good start off the line tomorrow and go from there.”

The impressive lap came two days after Bottas, who won the season opener in Austria, announced a one-year contract extension with the team.

Mercedes also is set to begin negotiating a new deal with Hamilton, who has won the past three races in F1 but was disappointed Saturday.

“Valtteri did a great job, but for me, it wasn’t a perfect last lap,” he said. “I don’t think many teams will be doing a one-stop race tomorrow so let’s wait and see how things turn out.”