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.

NHRA: Dodge/Mopar unveils new Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car in Denver

Photos/video courtesy Dodge/Mopar
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If you’re a fan of NHRA Funny Car racing and Dodge/Mopar, you may notice something different at this weekend’s Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in suburban Denver, Colorado.

Two-time (2011 and 2014) NHRA Funny Car champ Matt Hagan – who has won the last two NHRA national events in the last four weeks – will be piloting a newly-designed 2019 Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, a 10,000-horsepower Funny Car that was unveiled this morning ahead of Dodge/Mopar’s premier NHRA national event.

The new Charger SRT Hellcat succeeds the former Mopar Dodge Charger R/T, which had been in use since 2015.

“We improved on the body design,” Hagan said of the new Charger Hellcat. “It was already a great design, a great body. But now, we’re going to have a little more downforce, a little more traction on these racetracks and it will be a huge performance advantage.”

The new Hellcat includes a number of innovations, including a new front splitter to increase downforce. Just like its predecessor, the R/T, the Hellcat will go head-to-head with Chevrolet’s Camaro in the NHRA Funny Car ranks.

“We will be able to press harder with more downforce on the nose, which translates into huge amounts of downforce on the run,” Hagan said.

According to a media release, the new Hellcat features major design changes in three key areas: the front end, bodysides and burst panel placement:

* “At the front, the shape of the nose has been tweaked and a new splitter (photo), built of carbon fiber and Kevlar like the rest of the Funny Car body, has been added. The splitter substantially mimics the look and shape of the production vehicle’s splitter while generating greater downforce to help plant the Funny Car to the track.

* “Bodyside scallops have been redesigned to more closely identify with the production Hellcat while also enhancing on-track function and performance. The deeper character lines provide greater visual ties to the street version of the Hellcat, while also helping to mitigate the “body burn” common on all Funny Cars due to the close positioning of the exhaust headers.

* “The location of the burst panel on the hood has also been reworked. The panel is now centered over the top of the engine to more efficiently release energy and pressure in the event of engine issues, a common occurrence in race cars that are pushed to the razor’s edge of performance.”

Since the R/T was first introduced into the Don Schumacher Racing corps, it has gone on to 50 wins, 42 runner-up finishes and 40 No. 1 qualifiers in NHRA national events and one NHRA Funny Car World Championship (Ron Capps, 2016).

The new Charger SRT Hellcat, which can exceed 330-plus mph and covers 1,000 feet in under four seconds, is the drag strip version of the supercharged, 707-horsepower production Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, the quickest, fastest and most powerful sedan in the world.

While Hagan will drive the first Hellcat, his other three Dodge-powered DSR teammates – Capps, Jack Beckman and Tommy Johnson Jr. – will soon take delivery of their own versions of the car over the remaining 11 races of the 2018 season.

One day after winning two weeks ago at Norwalk, Ohio, Hagan and crew chief Dickie Venables put the new Hellcat through its paces with several test runs. The results were so strong that it was decided to debut the car at Denver and run all qualifying and elimination rounds with it.

“We made four good, solid runs in testing at Norwalk,” said Hagan. “We put the body through a lot of different things and were really, really pleased with it.

“I really think it’s going to translate over to performance on the race track, and hopefully more win lights in the future.”

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