Bottas beats Vettel to capture second F1 pole in Austria qualifying

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Valtteri Bottas edged out Formula 1 championship leader Sebastian Vettel to capture his second career pole in qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix on Saturday in Spielberg.

Bottas turned in a fastest lap of 1:04.251 in the early part of Q3 to beat Vettel by just 0.042 seconds with his first run, with the time ultimately being good enough for pole.

Yellow flags shown for Romain Grosjean’s stricken Haas meant that neither driver was able to improve, handing Bottas his second F1 pole position.

Having been hit with a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change, Mercedes opted to put Lewis Hamilton on an alternate strategy for the race start in Austria, getting the Briton through Q2 on the super-soft compound.

Hamilton finished almost two-tenths behind Bottas in third place, meaning he will start eighth on Sunday. However, with the rest of the pack starting on ultra-softs, Hamilton will be able to go longer into the race before pitting and will enjoy a pace advantage towards the end after pitting.

Red Bull failed to put up a fight to Mercedes and Ferrari at the front of the pack, finishing fifth and sixth with Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, the latter struggling to get into a rhythm as he tried a number of different lines on the track.

Grosjean took seventh for Haas ahead of the Force India duo of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon, while Carlos Sainz Jr. completed the top 10 for Toro Rosso.

Nico Hulkenberg narrowly missed out on a place in Q3 for Renault, qualifying 11th as he once again led the French marque’s charge with struggling teammate Jolyon Palmer ailing to 16th place.

McLaren failed to put its upgraded Honda power unit in Stoffel Vandoorne’s car to good use as the Belgian finished 13th in Q2, just behind teammate Fernando Alonso who had been forced to revert back to the ‘Spec 2′ engine earlier in the day following a problem.

Alonso had reported a lack of power early in the session, believing to have sustained another engine issue, but was able to finish just 0.05 seconds off a place in Q3.

Kevin Magnussen’s hopes of repeating his charge into the top 10 from FP3 were dashed when he suffered a suspension failure after running over the kerb at Turn 3, damaging his Haas car.

The Dane was able to make it through to Q2, but could take no part in the session, leaving him 15th on the grid behind Daniil Kvyat.

Williams’ miserable weekend in Spielberg continued as both Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll were eliminated in Q1, finishing 17th and 18th as the new updates for the FW40 car continued to cause headaches.

Sauber drivers Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein finished at the foot of the timesheets, finishing over seven-tenths of a second off a berth in Q2.

The Austrian Grand Prix is live on CNBC and the NBC Sports app from 7:30am 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.