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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.

Report: Spencer Pigot out at Ed Carpenter Racing

Joe Skibinski / IndyCar
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Spencer Pigot will not return to Ed Carpenter Racing in 2020, according to a story Thursday by RACER.com.

The 26-year-old Floridian, who won the 2015 Indy Lights championship, is expected to be replaced in the No. 21 Chevrolet by 2019 Indy Lights runner-up Rinus VeeKay.

“I’m appreciative of the opportunity ECR gave me,” Pigot told RACER.com. “I understand the reasons they had to go in a different direction, and wish them all the best.”

In 56 NTT IndyCar Series starts, Pigot has 15 top 10 finishes, with a best finish of second at Iowa in 2018. He finished 14th in the 2019 point standings.

VeeKay, who tested in an Indy car twice for ECR in 2019, has six wins in 18 Indy Lights starts, including a weekend sweep of the final two rounds of the season at Laguna Seca in September.

A representative from ECR told NBC Sports Thursday that the team currently could not comment on any driver rumors as the team currently does not have any drivers under contract for the 2020 season, although it is presumed that owner/driver Carpenter will return to the No. 20 entry for the oval rounds.

NBC Sports will provide updates on the story once more information becomes available.