Rosberg takes US GP pole in shortened qualifying session

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Nico Rosberg will start today’s United States Grand Prix from pole position after topping the timesheets during the postponed qualifying session on Sunday morning.

After rain washed out the planned session on Saturday afternoon, qualifying eventually got underway at 9am local time, albeit in conditions similar to the wet FP3 session earlier in the weekend.

Drivers took to the track for the beginning of Q1 as heavy rain continued to fall, with Romain Grosjean saying that conditions were “on the limit” for the session to take place.

Carlos Sainz Jr. was the first to fall foul of the slippery track, taking too much kerb in the first sector before sliding off the circuit and into the wall to leave Toro Rosso with a big repair job ahead of the race. His shunt also prompted the stewards to bring out the red flag.

The session resumed with Hamilton setting the early pace in the wet conditions. As more and more cars circulated and dried the track, times began to tumble, but the Briton remained in P1 until the end of Q1.

Sebastian Vettel made a rare mistake at turn ten to leave his car with minor damage, forcing him to sit out the remainder of the session. The four-time world champion narrowly made it through to Q2, with Marcus Ericsson, Felipe Nasr, Alexander Rossi and Will Stevens joining Sainz in the dropzone.

With heavier rain incoming, the teams opted to send their drivers out early at the beginning of Q2, and it was Mercedes who once again set the pace. Nico Rosberg produced a fine lap to take P1 early on, edging out Hamilton by one-tenth of a second to end Q2 at the top of the order.

The worsening rain prevented the drivers from improving in the final five minutes of the session, resigning the McLaren drivers to their regular Q2 exit. Fernando Alonso finished 11th, marking his best qualifying result of the season so far, while teammate Jenson Button finished down in 14th.

Williams’ Valtteri Bottas was arguably the most surprising dropout in Q2, finishing 12th ahead of Romain Grosjean. Pastor Maldonado propped up the order, ending the session 15th in the sister Lotus.

As the checkered flag was waved in Q2, Vettel, Button and Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat took to their team radios to call for the session to be red flagged, believing the conditions to have become too dangerous for more running.

The start of Q3 was delayed by ten minutes before race control decided to call the result, believing conditions to be unsafe for any further running in qualifying.

As a result, the grid is formed from the Q2 result with Rosberg taking pole position in Austin for the second year in a row. Hamilton will start alongside him on the front row of the grid. Red Bull drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat lock out the second row for P3 and P4, while Sebastian Vettel drops from fifth to 15th by virtue of his grid penalty.

Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg move up to fifth and sixth for Force India ahead of Felipe Massa and Max Verstappen, with Kimi Raikkonen also falling down ten places from P8 to P18 due to his grid penalty.

After claiming his third straight pole position, Rosberg will now be hoping to end his winless streak that dates back to the Austrian Grand Prix in June and delay Hamilton’s title celebrations.

However, should Hamilton outscore Rosberg by two points and Vettel by nine, he will be crowned F1 world champion for the third time on Sunday.

You can watch the United States Grand Prix live on NBC from 2:30pm ET today.

AJ Foyt Racing promotes Benjamin Pedersen from Indy Lights to IndyCar for 2023 season

Benjamin Pedersen AJ Foyt
AJ Foyt Racing
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Benjamin Pedersen is the first driver to land a promotion from Indy Lights into IndyCar for next season as AJ Foyt Racing confirmed Wednesday he’ll be part of its 2023 lineup.

Pedersen, a 23-year-old dual citizen of Denmark and the United States, spent last season running the full Indy Lights schedule for HMD Motorsports. Linus Lundqvist, his teammate, won the Lights title, and Pedersen finished fifth in the final standings. Pedersen earned his only win earlier this month when he led every lap from the pole at Portland.

Pedersen also ran four races for HMD in 2021 with back-to-back runner-up finishes in his debut. Pedersen landed on AJ Foyt Racing team president Larry Foyt’s radar through a “trusted colleague” and Pedersen spent most of last season shadowing the IndyCar team.

His promotion to IndyCar comes ahead of all four drivers who finished ahead of him in the Indy Lights standings, including champion Lundqvist.

“We are really looking forward to having Benjamin as part of the team,” Larry Foyt said. “His enthusiasm is infectious, and he is 100 percent committed to IndyCar, AJ Foyt Racing, and doing the best he can to win races.

“It’s been great to have him embedded with the team this past season, and everyone is excited to hit the ground running when testing begins. It is also great to have a multi-year program in place, which will help him and the team grow together.”

Foyt did not announce a car number for Pedersen. Kyle Kirkwood spent his rookie season driving AJ Foyt’s flagship No. 14 but Kirkwood is moving to Andretti Autosport. The team has not yet announced if Dalton Kellett will return for a fourth season, and a third car for Tatiana Calderon was pulled from competition after seven races because of sponsorship non-payment. Shutting down Calderon’s team removed the only semi-regular female driver from the IndyCar field.

Pedersen, however, was signed to an agreement Foyt said “spans multiple seasons as the team plans to develop the young rookie and is aligned to a longer-term plan for AJ Foyt Racing.”

Pedersen was born in Copenhagen but raised in Seattle and currently lives in Indianapolis. He said his time shadowing the IndyCar team has given him a jump on his rookie preparations.

“I’ve spent a lot of time this season with AJ Foyt Racing learning the ins and outs of making the jump to IndyCar and it’s been really nice to do that in conjunction with my Indy Lights season,” Pedersen said. “IndyCar has been my target goal since I started open wheel racing in 2016. The racing, atmosphere, fans, events, tracks, etc. are all awesome.”