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D’Ambrosio takes maiden Formula E pole in Punta del Este

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Jerome d’Ambrosio will start the third round of the 2015-2016 FIA Formula E season in Punta del Este from pole position on Saturday after setting the pace in the final stage of qualifying.

D’Ambrosio recorded a fastest lap of 1:15.498 to head up an all-Dragon Racing front row in Uruguay after teammate Loic Duval finished second in the Superpole session.

The advantage heading into the final shootout for pole appeared to lie with Renault e.dams driver Sebastien Buemi and ABT’s Lucas di Grassi after they finished first and second in the initial qualifying heats.

D’Ambrosio laid down a marker for both to follow, but mistakes from di Grassi at turn four and Buemi at turn nine cost them both a chance to take pole.

As a result, d’Ambrosio was able to revel in his first Formula E pole position ahead of the race in Punta del Este later on Saturday.

Sam Bird led DS Virgin Racing’s charge en route to third place ahead of di Grassi and Buemi, while Nicolas Prost narrowly missed out on a place in the shootout for pole by finishing sixth.

Daniel Abt ended qualifying in seventh place for his family-run team, while Antonio Felix da Costa was the leading driver using season one technology by finishing eighth ahead of Bruno Senna and Oliver Turvey.

Robin Frijns struggled to P11 after a battery change forced him to switch car ahead of qualifying, but he still managed to outqualify season one champion Nelson Piquet Jr. in P12. Stephane Sarrazin also had a session to forget, ending up 13th ahead of Nathanael Berthon.

Simona de Silvestro was caught out by a yellow flag during her heat caused by Jacques Villeneuve, limiting her to P15 ahead of debutant Oliver Rowland and Jean-Eric Vergne, who also hit trouble in the session. Villeneuve propped up the order in P18 after failing to set a time.

The Punta del Este ePrix takes place at 2pm ET on Saturday.

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.”