Rosberg capitalizes on Hamilton’s early exit to take Chinese GP pole

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Nico Rosberg will start Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix from pole position after finishing half a second clear of the field in qualifying in Shanghai.

After seeing Mercedes teammate and title rival Lewis Hamilton drop out in Q1 thanks to an engine issue, Rosberg capitalized by taking his first pole position of the season.

Rosberg’s biggest challenge came from Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, who sat on provisional pole after the first set of runs in Q3.

However, the Finn failed to make much of an improvement on his second lap, dropping him to third behind Rosberg and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo in second place.

A mistake from Sebastian Vettel on his only Q3 lap left the German to settle for fourth place on the grid ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Daniil Kvyat.

Sergio Perez led Force India’s charge in seventh ahead of teammate Nico Hulkenberg in P10, with the Toro Rosso pair of Carlos Sainz Jr. and Max Verstappen splitting them in eighth and ninth respectively.

A loose wheel on Hulkenberg’s car at the end of Q2 brought out the red flag, preventing from any of the drivers sitting in the dropzone from improving their times late on.

Felipe Massa was the biggest loser, narrowly missing out on a Q3 berth in P11, while the McLaren duo of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button were also left disappointed in 12th and 13th respectively.

Romain Grosjean failed to reach Q3 once again for Haas, finishing 14th ahead of the Saubers of Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson, both of whom improved late on in Q1 to avoid being eliminated at the first hurdle.

The biggest shock of qualifying came in Q1 when four-time Chinese Grand Prix winner Hamilton was forced to pit without setting a lap time due to an ERS issue on his Mercedes W07 Hybrid car.

The Briton had reported early in qualifying that he had an issue on his power unit, and in spite of Mercedes’ best efforts to rectify it during a red flag period, the team could not get him out for a full power lap. Combined with his grid penalty, Hamilton will start tomorrow’s race from the back of the grid.

Haas’ Esteban Gutierrez’s miserable weekend continued as he was knocked out in Q1, splitting the Renaults of Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer in the dropzone. Manor’s Rio Haryanto followed in P20 ahead of teammate Pascal Wehrlein, who like Hamilton failed to post a time after crashing on the main straight early on and causing a lengthy red flag stoppage.

The Chinese Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 1:30am ET on Sunday.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III