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Sato snatches Detroit two pole with new track record

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DETROIT – Takuma Sato has snatched the pole for the second race of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix Presented by Lear right near the end of the second session with a new track record lap of 1:13.6732.

What looked like a near unassailable time of 1:13.9449 from Will Power – on Firestone’s black primary tires – was first for most of the second group of qualifying by more than 1.3 seconds.

Then a pair of Hondas slapped on some Firestone red alternates and found buckets of time and dropped Power down the order.

First Saturday winner Graham Rahal and then Sato supplanted him.

The second group was significantly quicker than the first group because of an accident for Carlos Munoz in the first group at Turn 2. That negated a lot of potential track time for drivers to improve and as such, left group one leader Ryan Hunter-Reay more than 1.5 seconds in arrears of Sato’s time, even though he led his session.

Both Sato and Hunter-Reay receive a point for leading their sessions.

Here’s the times, below.

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.”