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.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”