Vettel rockets to Hungarian GP pole, Ferrari locks out front row

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Sebastian Vettel turned in the fastest ever lap of the Hungaroring to lead Ferrari to its third pole of the 2017 Formula 1 season in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Vettel was able to carry his solid FP3 pace through to qualifying and grab his third pole in Ferrari colors, edging out Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen at the top of the timesheets.

A fastest lap of 1:16.276 saw Vettel send out a warning shot to championship rival Lewis Hamilton, who struggled with a vibration on his tires and could only qualify fourth for Mercedes behind teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Red Bull struggled to replicate its Friday practice pace, finishing fifth and sixth with Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, while Nico Hulkenberg led Renault’s charge in P7.

McLaren lived up to its expectations of showing a better pace in Hungary by taking its best Saturday result of the year, qualifying eighth and ninth with Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne. Carlos Sainz Jr. rounded out the top 10 for Toro Rosso.

Jolyon Palmer put in one of his strongest qualifying displays of the season so far, narrowly missing out on a Q3 berth in P11, helping to ease some of the pressure he faces at Renault.

Force India suffered a double knockout in Q2 as Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez qualified P12 and P14 respectively, split by Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat. Romain Grosjean ailed to 15th for Haas, struggling under braking on his final flying lap.

Kevin Magnussen was knocked out in Q1 despite setting the exact same time as Perez, who advanced to Q2, acting as a tough break for the Dane in P16. Lance Stroll finished 17th for Williams ahead of Sauber’s Pascal Wehrlein, who complained of traffic during a late hot lap as he pushed to make it through.

Surprise super-sub Paul di Resta managed to qualify for his first F1 race since the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix, with Q1 providing his maiden run in a 2017-spec car.

Stepping in for the unwell Felipe Massa at Williams, di Resta finished 19th ahead of Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson, but was able to rack up some important laps and finish within the required 107 per cent of the fastest Q1 lap.

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

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”