Rosberg quickest in opening practice for Austrian GP

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Nico Rosberg kicked off the Austrian Grand Prix weekend in the best possible fashion by topping the opening practice session on Friday morning at the Red Bull Ring.

Rosberg posted a fastest lap time of 1:10.401 to finish three-tenths of a second clear of Mercedes teammate and championship rival Lewis Hamilton at the top of the timesheets.

First practice in Spielberg resembled something more akin to a pre-season test session as a number of teams ran with new parts, evaluated upgrades and hit trouble with their cars.

Fernando Alonso was the first driver to suffer a problem early in the session when his brand-new Honda engine lost power, forcing him to crawl back to the pits. Although the Spaniard managed to get out later in the session, McLaren teammate Jenson Button also had an issue with his car that forced him to pit.

Ferrari’s hopes of taking the fight to Mercedes this weekend were dealt a blow when Sebastian Vettel suffered a gearbox problem, leaving him at the bottom of the timesheets and on the back foot for the rest of the weekend.

For Mercedes though, it was business as usual at the front with Rosberg and Hamilton leading the way. Kimi Raikkonen kept Ferrari heads up by finishing the session in third place, whilst Williams ran well in the first session as Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa finished third and ninth respectively.

Felipe Nasr made good on his belief that Sauber would fare well in Austria by finishing fifth in FP1, just ahead of Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo. Max Verstappen finished just behind Toro Rosso’s big brother team in eighth place, whilst Sergio Perez rounded out the top ten.

Be sure to join us for FP2 live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 8am ET on Friday.

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