GP2: Sirotkin on pole for Silverstone feature race

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Rapax driver Sergey Sirotkin claimed his first GP2 Series pole position during qualifying at Silverstone on Friday, edging out championship leader Stoffel Vandoorne by almost two-tenths of a second.

Sirotkin made his GP2 debut at the beginning of the season after cutting ties with Sauber, who had planned to aid the Russian in making his Formula 1 debut.

In perfect conditions on Friday afternoon at Silverstone, Sirotkin posted a fastest lap of 1:39.949 to beat McLaren junior Vandoorne by 0.185 seconds and claim his first series pole position.

“It’s quite amazing, I’ve never driven this circuit before, and even yesterday I thought I don’t know what to expect, and we were quite blind about what to expect,” Sirotkin said.

“In qualy it didn’t feel super well, but we had okay lap times and we kept improving, putting it all together in the last two laps, and it worked out well! The team did a great job, really perfect, and we’re really in shape now.”

Vandoorne has won every feature race so far this season, and believes that a good start on Saturday will be key if he is to extend this record.

“We need a good start to put myself in a good position, and then we’ll see,” Vandoorne said. “If I can lead that’s the best thing that can happen, and we’ll see what happens after that.

“I’ve got experience from the race here last year, Sergey doesn’t, so it’s definitely an advantage for us, and tires are quite tricky around here.”

American driver Alexander Rossi will start tomorrow’s race from fourth place on the grid, and will be gunning to give the U.S. fans at Silverstone a welcome result on 4th of July.

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.”