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.

Meyer Shank Racing wins Petit Le Mans to take final DPi championship in dramatic finale

Petit Le Mans championship
IMSA
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Meyer Shank Racing outdueled Wayne Taylor Racing to win the Petit Le Mans and clinch the championship in a thrilling final race for the DPi division.

Tom Blomqvist, who started from the pole position, drove the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 to a 4.369-second victory over Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac.

“That was incredible,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports’ Matt Yocum. “I’ve never dug so deep in my life. The adrenaline. I did that for the guys. I was so motivated to win this thing this weekend. But I’ve got to thank everyone on the whole team.”

With co-drivers Oliver Jarvis and Helio Castroneves, Blomqvist helped MSR bookend its season-opening victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona by winning Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Michelin Road Atlanta.

In between those two victories, the No. 60 earned five runner-up finishes to stay in the thick of the championship hunt and trail WTR’s No. 10 Acura by 14 points entering Saturday’s race.

WTR’s Filipe Albuquerque had a lead of more than 10 seconds over Blomqvist with less than 50 minutes remaining in the 10-hour race.

But a Turn 1 crash between the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs brought out a yellow that sent both Acuras into the pits from the top two positions.

Though he entered in second, Blomqvist barely beat Albuquerque out of the pits, and he held the lead for the final 45 minutes.

Blomqvist said he gained the lead because of a shorter fuel fill after he had worked on being efficient in the second-to-last stint.

“The team asked a big job of me with the fuel; I had a big fuel number to hit,” Blomqvist said. “We knew that was probably our only chance. The yellow came at the right time and obviously we had a bit less fuel to fill up, so I was able to jump him and then it was just a matter of going gung-ho and not leaving anything on the line. And obviously, the opposition had to try too hard to make it work. I’m so thankful.”

Albuquerque closed within a few car lengths of Blomqvist with 14 minutes remaining, but he damaged his suspension because of contact with a GT car in Turn 1.

It’s the first prototype championship for Meyer Shank Racing, which also won the 2021 Indy 500 with Castroneves.

“We’ve had in the last four years, three championships for Acura, the Indy 500 win and the Rolex 24, it doesn’t get any better,” team co-owner Mike Shank told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee.

It’s the third consecutive runner-up finish in the points standings for Wayne Taylor Racing, which won the first Daytona Prototype international championship in 2017. The premier category will be rebranded as the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with the LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Kamui Kobayashi finished third in the No. 48 Cadillac of Action Express that also includes Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.

The podium showing marked Johnson’s last scheduled race in IMSA’s top prototype division. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has raced in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac lineup as the Action Express entry has run the Endurance Cup races.

Johnson said a lack of inventory will preclude him having a 2023 ride in the top category. But he still is hopeful of racing the Garage 56 Next Gen Camaro in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and possibly running in a lower class for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I’d love to be at Le Mans next year,” Johnson told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch after his final stint Saturday. “I’d love to be at the Rolex 24. The series is going through a shake-up with the reconfiguration of the rules and classes, so I don’t have anything locked down yet, but I’m so thankful for this experience with Action. The support Ally has given us, Mr. Hendrick, Chad Knaus, all of Hendrick Motorsports. It’s been a fun two years, and I certainly hope I’m on the grid again next year.”