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Wolff: No change in opinion of elimination F1 qualifying

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Mercedes AMG Petronas team boss Toto Wolff says that the second run of the elimination Formula 1 qualifying format did nothing to change his poor opinion of it.

The addition of quickfire eliminations to qualifying in Australia resulted in a backlash from the majority of the paddock, with Wolff calling the format “pretty rubbish”.

However, as teams could not agree on a format to replace it, the eliminations were given a second chance in Bahrain on Saturday.

There was little improvement, though, as yet again the track was left empty for large parts of the session, with pole being settled with three minutes to run in Q3.

“My feelings about this qualifying format haven’t changed and there is nothing to add to what I’ve already said about it,” Wolff said after the session ahead of a meeting on Sunday to discuss a change for China.

It proved to be a successful qualifying for Mercedes as Lewis Hamilton led Nico Rosberg to a front-row lock-out, putting the Silver Arrows in a strong position for Sunday’s race.

“The actual battle today between our two cars, and also between ourselves and Ferrari, was very close and really exciting,” Wolff said.

“It was only in the final part of Q2 and Q3 that Lewis and Nico hooked everything up, and for Lewis it came down to his final Q3 lap after he ran wide on his first run.

“What he produced was a stunning lap, the fastest ever on this circuit – quicker even than the V10 era – and more than three seconds faster than last year’s pole. Really impressive.

“Nico came very close to beating it and fell less then a tenth short in the end after his fastest lap of the session.

“Now we focus on tomorrow’s race, on getting off the line well – and what I am sure will be a very tight battle with Ferrari.”

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

Steve Torrence takes NHRA points lead with Gatornationals victory

NHRA Gainesville Steve Torrence
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two-time defending NHRA Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence took the points lead Sunday in the AMALIE Motor Oil Gatornationals, beating his father, Billy, in the final round at Gainesville Raceway.

Torrence had a 3.809-second run at 322.11 mph to win for the third time this year and 39th overall. He is now on track for another championship despite missing the season opener.

“We’ve got some good momentum and to be in the points lead, it’s a testament to how hard these guys work,” Steve Torrence said after the NHRA Gainesville victory. “We’ve just got to stay focused and concentrate on what the task at hand is, and that’s trying to win a championship. These guys give me an unbelievable race car and you just try not to screw it up.”

Ron Capps won in Funny Car, Alex Laughlin in Pro Stock and Matt Smith in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Capps raced to his second win this year and 66th overall, beating Tim Wilkerson with a 3.937 at 323.12 in a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat.

Laughlin topped Aaron Stanfield with a 7.068 at 204.76 in a Chevrolet Camaro for his first win this season and fourth in his career. Smith rode to his first victory in 2020 and 25th overall, topping Andrew Hines with a 6.843 at 196.99 on an EBR.