Hamilton rallies from Q3 error to take Bahrain GP pole

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Lewis Hamilton will start the Bahrain Grand Prix from pole position after edging out Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in the final Q3 shootout on Saturday evening.

Hamilton produced a fastest lap of 1:29.493 – the quickest lap ever recorded around the Bahrain International Circuit – in the last stage of qualifying to take his 51st career pole position.

After being provisionally scrapped for Bahrain, the elimination qualifying format made its second appearance after the teams failed to agree on an alternative last week.

Much as it did in Australia, it proved effective early on in Q1 and Q2 as more cars were out on track putting in laps, yet it once again caused pole to be settled with three minutes remaining in Q3.

First blood in Q3 went to Rosberg, who edged out Vettel by one-tenth of a second for P1 with Raikkonen following in third. Hamilton ran wide at the final corner, costing him time to leave him seven-tenths adrift of Rosberg ahead of their final runs.

Sitting fourth, Hamilton had to get out early for his last bid for pole, but duly delivered to go half a second quicker than Rosberg and take provisional pole.

Rosberg could not respond with his final lap, falling 0.077 seconds short of his teammate in second place, while Vettel finished half a second back in third ahead of Raikkonen.

Daniel Ricciardo led Red Bull’s charge in fifth ahead of the Williams duo of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa, with Nico Hulkenberg rounding out the top eight for Force India.

Following his charge to sixth place on Haas F1 Team’s debut in Australia, Romain Grosjean continue his strong start to the season by scoring the American team’s first top-10 start by qualifying ninth, narrowly missing out on a place in Q3.

Toro Rosso’s patchy record in Bahrain continued as Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr. qualified 10th and 11th, while Stoffel Vandoorne impressed in his maiden F1 qualifying session to finish 12th, beating teammate Jenson Button in 14th.

Esteban Gutierrez split the McLarens in the second Haas, while Daniil Kvyat struggled once again in qualifying, finishing two seconds off the pace of leader Hamilton in Q2 in P15.

Manor’s Pascal Wehrlein was arguably the unsung hero of qualifying, producing a quick lap early on before improving to hoist himself out of immediate danger to qualify 16th ahead of Marcus Ericsson and Sergio Perez.

Renault struggled for pace as Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer could only finish 19th and 20th respectively, the latter being knocked out after Vandoorne improved his lap with just a handful of seconds. Magnussen will start Sunday’s race from the pit lane after receiving a penalty in practice.

Rio Haryanto struggled to emulate teammate Wehrlein, finishing 21st, while Felipe Nasr was the first casualty of Q1 in 22nd.

The Bahrain Grand Prix is live on NBCSN from 10:30am ET on Sunday.

Provisional Indy Lights champion Oliver Askew ready for IndyCar ride

Road to Indy
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Provisional Indy Lights champion Oliver Askew has done nothing but dominate the 2019 season, winning seven of the 16 races run so far and finishing on the podium in all but two of those events.

Now all the 22-year-old Floridian needs to do to formally clinch the 2019 title is simply start the final two races of the season, both of which will be held this weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

For Askew, his maiden Indy Lights season will likely be one he’ll never forget. 

“It’s been a dream come true,” Askew told NBC Sports. “Being with the championship-winning team from last year, we had a really good shot at winning it again for Andretti Autosport. It’s very rare that we show up to a track and struggle to find speed. 

“That’s a fantastic feeling, especially as a driver. That gave me a lot of confidence and hopes of holding the million dollar check at the end of the year. That was the goal going into it.”

This weekend, Askew will accomplish said goal. The championship will not only bring him a sense of pride, but also the opportunity of a lifetime. 

As an award for being crowned the Indy Lights champion, Askew will be awarded a scholarship that guarantees him entry into a minimum of three NTT IndyCar Series events next year – including the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500. 

Time will only tell which team Askew will race for in IndyCar next season, and whether or not Askew’s rookie campaign will be a full-time or part-time affair, but Askew’s performance during the last few seasons in the Road to Indy system has certainly drawn attention of IndyCar’s top team owners.

In August, Askew had the chance to drive an Indy car for the first time in his career during a test session at Portland International Raceway, driving the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda usually piloted by Scott Dixon.

“It was an opportunity with Chip Ganassi Racing that I was very fortunate to have,” Askew said. “I think with my experience in the past couple of years with Cape Motorsports and this year with Andretti Autosport, going into that test was very helpful.

“Going into the test, it was more of trying to treat it as just another day at the racetrack, when it really wasn’t. It was a fantastic opportunity for me – a great experience – and I hope I can take that into my rookie season next year in IndyCar.” 

The final two races of the 2019 Indy Lights season will take place this weekend on Saturday, September 21 at 6 p.m. ET and Sunday, September 22 at 12:05 p.m. ET. Both races will air live on NBC Sports Gold.

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