WEC: Audi on top in Friday practice sessions at Silverstone

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Audi made an impressive start to the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship season by topping the first two free practice sessions at Silverstone on Friday.

The German marque is bidding to reclaim the WEC crown in 2015 after losing to the Toyota of Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi last year, who will carry the no. 1 for the coming season.

After seeing Porsche set the pace at the pre-season prologue at Paul Ricard last month, Audi managed to respond by scoring a one-two in FP2 after going first and third in FP1 at Silverstone on Friday.

The Audi cars – carrying no. 7 and no. 8 in 2015 – shared P1, with Marcel Fassler, Benoit Treluyer and Andre Lotterer posting the fastest time of the day in the second session. Their lap of 1:41.526 was half a second clear of Porsche’s no. 17 in third place, whilst Toyota had to settle for P5 and P6 as Davidson and Buemi finished two seconds off the pace.

In LMP2, the G-Drive Racing cars dominated proceedings by going P1 and P2 in both sessions. The no. 28 of Gustavo Yacaman, Luis Felipe Derani and Ricardo Gonzalez had the upper hand in the intra-team battle on Friday, but is likely to face a stiff challenge from the sister no. 26 in qualifying tomorrow.

First blood in GTE Pro went to Aston Martin Racing as the no. 95 posted the fastest time of the day in FP1. However, Porsche hit back in FP2 as Richard Lietz and Michael Christensen led home Patrick Pilet and Frederic Makowiecki in the sister 911 RSR. With just 1.2 seconds separating all seven cars in the class in FP2, the fight for supremacy appears to be wide open at Silverstone.

The same can be said for GTE Am, where the Abu Dhabi Proton Racing Porsche of Christian Ried, Khaled Al Qubaisi and Klaus Bachler posted the fastest time of the day, finishing just eight-hundredths of a second clear of the no. 98 Aston Martin Racing that set the pace in the second session on Friday.

To see the complete results, click here. FP3 takes place at 9am local time at Silverstone on Saturday before qualifying at midday.

Valtteri Bottas takes pole position for season-opening Austrian GP

Leonhard Foeger/Pool via Getty Images
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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas upstaged Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to take pole position Saturday for the Formula One Austrian GP.

The Finnish driver edged out the world champion by 0.012 seconds to claim the top spot for the season opener at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg. He clenched his fist as he climbed out of his car and shared a hug with Hamilton.

“It’s something special when you push the car to the limit,” said Bottas, who is chasing an eighth career win. “Feels so good. It’s very impressive (from the team).”

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was third, and Lando Norris gave McLaren a boost by finishing fourth. Verstappen has won the past two years here, including 2019 when he started third behind Hamilton and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

“It’s going to be interesting quite a bit warmer tomorrow and hopefully this will play to our advantage,” Verstappen said. “Today, Mercedes was on a different level, unfortunately. Last year we were also a little bit off in qualifying so I expect we will be a bit better in the race.”

Bottas had the leading time when drivers embarked on their final laps and beat his own mark before sliding off the track into the gravel.

Hamilton was chasing a record-extending 89th career pole. He was ahead but then dropped off slightly as Bottas secured a 12th career pole.

“Great job by Valtteri. It’s a great start to the season,” Hamilton said. “We show year on year that we continue to be the best team. We’re open-minded … constantly learning from each other and pushing the boundaries.”

Ferrari struggled for speed, with Leclerc nearly one second behind in seventh and Sebastian Vettel failing to make it into the third and final part of qualifying, known as Q3. He starts the race from 11th on the grid.

Vettel is leaving Ferrari at the end of the season with his future in F1 uncertain.

Earlier, Hamilton posted the fastest time in morning practice. The 35-year-old British driver was also quickest in both sessions on Friday.

Midway through third practice, F1 newcomer Nicholas Latifi misjudged the exit of a turn and spun his Williams car into a protective tire wall.