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Pagenaud paces Penske-dominated first half of first Detroit race

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DETROIT – Varying strategies have dominated the opening half of the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Presented by Quicken Loans first race this weekend, as has Team Penske.

Polesitter Simon Pagenaud leads at the halfway mark in the No. 22 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Team Penske Chevrolet, having paced 27 of the 35 laps thus far in the scheduled 70 lap race.

Will Power and Juan Pablo Montoya have also led five and three laps respectively.

There was one crazy moment when Power passed Montoya to the inside at Turn 3, Pagenaud then following him through, with Montoya down to third.

The entire field started on Firestone’s red alternate tires, save for Carlos Munoz who started on blacks. Rain has spit intermittently around the track but not enough to force a change to full wets.

Jack Hawksworth failed to start with a mechanical issue while Max Chilton crashed out owing to a broken steering column, so it was a tough day for the pair of Englishmen.

Here was the order at the halfway point, below. The positions changed based on

DET1halfway

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.”