Hamilton eases to fourth straight pole position in Bahrain


Lewis Hamilton will start tomorrow’s Bahrain Grand Prix from the front of the grid after dominating all three parts of Saturday’s qualifying session to claim his fourth consecutive pole position in 2015.

The defending Formula 1 world champion posted a fastest lap time of 1:32.571 to beat Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel by four-tenths of a second in Q3, as his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg faded to third place in the final part of qualifying.

Despite having never started from pole position before in Bahrain, Hamilton was unbeatable throughout qualifying as he topped Q1, Q2 and Q3 to send out a firm warning shot to the chasing pack.

With tire management being a key concern for teams ahead of tomorrow’s race, a number of drivers tried to get through Q1 and into the second stage of qualifying without using a set of the option tires. Nico Rosberg was the pace setter on the medium compound Pirellis, but even his lap was not enough to stop Mercedes from fitting its drivers with a set of softs for a second run in Q1.

Rosberg continued his good pace following the switchover, but could not match teammate Lewis Hamilton, whose P1 time was half a second quicker than the rest of the field. Ferrari only sent Vettel out for one run in qualifying, but it was enough to easily get him up into the top ten and sure of a place in the second session.

Further back, Jenson Button’s Bahrain woes continued as he stopped out on track without setting a time, leaving him at the back of the grid for the race. Manor’s qualifying went as expected, with both Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi being eliminated, but a surprise drop-out was Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat, who finished 17th behind Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado.

Hamilton refused to rest on his laurels heading into Q2, going eight-tenths faster than the rest of the pack with his first lap to secure his place in the final pole position shootout. Ferrari opted to complete just one run again, heading out when the track was empty to get Raikkonen and Vettel into second and fourth place respectively.

Sauber chose to limit itself to just one run at the end of the session, and although both Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson did get into the top ten with their first laps, they were soon bumped down and out of qualifying. Max Verstappen could only finish 15th for Toro Rosso due to a lack of power, but his teammate, Carlos Sainz Jr, did manage to work his way into the top ten and secure a place in Q3. Sergio Perez lost out as a result in P11, but Fernando Alonso had managed to secure McLaren’s first Q2 appearance, eventually finishing 14th.

With tire management crucial again in Q3, all of the drivers except for Daniel Ricciardo opted to head out on a used set of Pirellis. Ricciardo put his fresh soft compound tires to good use, posting the second quickest time from the first runs, with only Hamilton ahead. Even on a scrubbed set of tires, the defending world champion was laying down an ominous pace in Q3.

Now fitted with fresh tires for his final run, Rosberg did his best to put up a fight to his teammate, but could only go P2 with his last lap in qualifying behind the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel who was now on provisional pole. However, the German’s joy did not last long as Hamilton crossed the line at the end of Q3 to go four-tenths of a second quicker and take his fourth pole position of the season.

Kimi Raikkonen did his best to underpin Vettel’s strong result by qualifying fourth, just behind Rosberg, whilst Williams finished in its usual positions of P5 and P6. Ricciardo eventually faded to seventh in Q3 ahead of Nico Hulkenberg, Carlos Sainz Jr and Romain Grosjean who rounded out the top ten.

Texas starting lineup: Felix Rosenqvist back on pole; Scott Dixon qualifies second


FORT WORTH, Texas — For the second consecutive year, Felix Rosenqvist will lead the NTT IndyCar Series starting lineup to the green flag at Texas Motor Speedway.

The Arrow McLaren driver is hoping the third time will be the charm at the 1.5-mile oval, where he has run extremely well but has only a career-best 12th in five starts.

“We’ve always been good here, but this is a whole different confidence level compared to last year,” Rosenqvist told NBC Sports’ Marty Snider. “Let’s try to wrap it up (Sunday).”

In 2020, Rosenqvist was competing for a podium when he crashed with 10 laps remaining at Texas.

QUALIFYING RESULTS: Click here for speeds from Saturday’s time trials

INDYCAR AT TEXASSchedule, start times, how to watch on NBC, Peacock

Last year, he started first on an oval for the first time in his career but finished 21st because of a broken halfshaft.

“It’s definitely one of my favorite tracks, and naturally, I’ve always been OK here,” Rosenqvist said. “It was the first oval that made sense to me. Every year I’m building on that. But looking at the results, they don’t represent the speed I normally have.

“I don’t want to jinx anything, but I hope tomorrow is going to go a bit better and some luck our way would be nice. It’s been feeling super good. Arrow McLaren has been mega every session, so just keep it rolling.”

Arrow McLaren qualified all three of its Chevrolets in the top five, building on a second for Pato O’Ward and fourth for Alexander Rossi in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The March 5 season opener was a disappointing start for Rosenqvist who was squeezed into the wall by Scott Dixon on the first lap.

Dixon, a five-time winner at Texas, will start second Sunday, followed by Rossi and Josef Newgarden. O’Ward will start fifth alongside Takuma Sato, who will start on the outside of the third row in his Chip Ganassi Racing debut.

During nearly four hours of practice and qualifying (including a special high-line session), Saturday’s lone incident involved Conor Daly.

The Ed Carpenter Racing driver spun three times but stayed off the wall and in the frontstretch grass. Aside from a front wing change and new tires, there was no damage to his No. 20 Dallara-Chevrolet during the incident midway through the 30-minute session in which drivers were limited to the high line.

“I hadn’t really had a moment before, but it snapped really aggressively,” Daly told NBC Sports after final practice. “Not ideal, but I do know my way around correcting a spin it seems like. I drove NASCAR last weekend and that seemed to help a little bit. I drove in the dirt a lot in USAC Midgets and seemed to be able to save something but not ideal or what we wanted to have happen.”

Daly will start 25th of 28 cars alongside teammate Rinus VeeKay in Row 13. Carpenter qualified 18th.

“Our three of our cars were clearly looking for something. Mechanical grip is for sure what we need. Qualifying we actually expected to be a lot better, but we found an issue there. We’ll see what happens. This race can change a lot. I’m confident in the team to hopefully figure some things out for tomorrow.”

Here’s the IndyCar starting lineup for Sunday’s PPG 375 at Texas Motor Speedway (qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, engine and speed):


1. (6) Felix Rosenqvist, Dallara-Chevy, 220.264 mph
2. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 219.972


3. (7) Alexander Rossi, Dallara-Chevy, 219.960
4. (2) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Chevy, 219.801


5. (5) Pato O’Ward, Dallara-Chevy, 219.619
6. (11) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 219.508


7. (10) Alex Palou, Dallara-Honda, 219.480
8. (12) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 219.355


9. (18) David Malukas, Dallara-Honda, 219.256
10. (26) Colton Herta, Dallara-Honda, 219.184


11. (28) Romain Grosjean, Dallara-Honda, 219.165
12. (29) Devlin DeFrancesco, Dallara-Honda, 219.146

ROW 7 

13. (55) Benjamin Pedersen, Dallara-Chevy, 219.100
14. (14) Santino Ferrucci, Dallara-Chevy, 218.892


15. (3) Scott McLaughlin, Dallara-Chevy, 218.765
16. (8) Marcus Ericsson, Dallara-Honda, 218.698


17. (77) Callum Ilott, Dallara-Chevy, 218.427
18. (33) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Chevy, 218.375

ROW 10

19. (78) Agustin Canapino, Dallara-Chevy, 218.367
20. (27) Kyle Kirkwood, Dallara-Honda, 218.227

ROW 11

21. (06) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, 218.196
22. (60) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 218.103

ROW 12

23. (51) Sting Ray Robb, Dallara-Honda, 217.676
24. (15) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 217.611

ROW 13

25. (20) Conor Daly, Dallara-Chevy, 217.457
26. (21) Rinus VeeKay, Dallara-Chevy, 216.880

ROW 14

27. (45) Christian Lundgaard, Dallara-Honda, 216.210
28. (30) Jack Harvey, Dallara-Honda, 216.103