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Rosberg praises Hamilton, says pole ‘wasn’t possible’ in Abu Dhabi

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Nico Rosberg congratulated Mercedes Formula 1 teammate Lewis Hamilton on scoring pole position for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, saying that it “wasn’t possible” to match the Briton’s time.

Rosberg enters the final race of the 2016 season with a 12-point advantage over Hamilton, needing a podium finish to clinch his maiden F1 drivers’ championship.

The German struggled to match Hamilton’s pace throughout qualifying, finishing three-tenths of a second adrift at the end of Q3 to qualify second at the Yas Marina Circuit.

Despite only needing a top-three finish on Sunday, Rosberg admitted he felt disappointed not to have taken the fight to Hamilton in the session.

“Well as I’ve said, I’ve come here to try and be on pole and win the race tomorrow as well,” Rosberg said.

“Not ecstatic about today. Lewis did a great job and was a couple of tenths quicker.

“It just wasn’t possible for me to do that time today even though I gave it everything. But as we know, there are still opportunities tomorrow.”

Rosberg said that he felt no extra nerves heading into qualifying than compared to a normal session despite being on the verge of the title.

“Well adrenaline is always there in qualifying. That’s what’s great about it to go on the edge, on the limit, push flat out,” Rosberg said.

“It was getting good out there. As qualifying went on, I felt better and better.

“Got a good lap in in the end in Q3, but not good enough.”

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 7am ET on Sunday.

Alex Palou fastest as several go off course during IndyCar practice at IMS

IndyCar Harvest GP practice
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Alex Palou paced the opening practice Thursday for the IndyCar Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The Dale Coyne Racing rookie turned a 1-minute, 10.177-second lap around the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course in his No. 55 Dallara-Honda.

Jack Harvey was second, followed by Colton Herta, points leader Scott Dixon and Max Chilton.

PRACTICE CHART: Click here to see the speed rundown from Thursday’s session

FRIDAY AT IMS: Details for watching Race 1 of the Harvest GP

Qualifying for Friday’s race will be at 6:20 p.m. ET Thursday on NBC Sports Gold.

Will Power, who won the pole position for the July 4 race at the track, spun off course with just more than a minute left in the session after the left rear of his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet made slight contact with the right front of Alexander Rossi’s No. 28 Dallara-Honda.

Power was among several drivers who went off track, but there were no damaged cars during the session. Marcus Ericsson missed the final 5 minutes of the practice after being penalized for causing a red flag with a Turn 8 spin.

Arrow McLaren SP drivers Pato O’Ward and Helio Castroneves, who is driving for Oliver Askew (who is recovering from concussion-like symptoms), also veered off course as did rookie Rinus VeeKay and Santino Ferrucci.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson was in attendance at the session before racing Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. Johnson will be driving a partial schedule of road and street courses in IndyCar next season for Chip Ganassi Racing.

“Literally, the smallest of details, I can pick up on,” Johnson told NBC Sports pit reporter Kevin Lee. “It’s been really nice today just to see how a session starts and obviously to jump on the radio and listen to how the systems work and then obviously you get into the car and the setup and such. I’m at ground zero right now, a 45-year-old rookie trying to learn my way into a new sport essentially.”

Johnson told Lee his sponsorship hunt to run a Ganassi car “has gone really well. The fact that I’m here today and ingrained so deeply in the team is a great sign of where things are going. Looking forward to getting behind the wheel of a car soon and hopefully having some announcements for the world to see soon, too.”

Fans were in attendance Thursday for the first time this season at IMS, which is allowed a limited crowd of 10,000 for its races this weekend.