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.

Lessons learned in three rounds of Extreme E pay huge dividends in the Copper X Prix for Tanner Foust

Foust Copper X Prix
McLaren Racing
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To paraphrase the Grateful Dead, what a long, unique trip it’s been for Tanner Foust in his first season with the Extreme E series as he took his early season lessons to Chile to compete in the Copper X Prix. And he’s learned his lessons well.

In February, McLaren announced they would expand their motorsports program with an Extreme E entry. They signed two talented rally drivers in Foust and Emma Gilmour – and paired them for the opening round in Neom, Saudi Arabia with just a few days of testing under their belts. Baked by the Arabian desert sun, it was trial by fire.

The duo performed well in their debut, advancing into the final round and finishing fifth. As Extreme E headed to another desert halfway across the globe for Round 4, it was a good time to catch up with Foust and ask about McLaren’s progress. The Copper X Prix was held this past weekend in one of the most extreme regions in the world: the Atacama Desert.

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“The shock going into the first race was the speed,” Foust told NBC Sports. “It was much higher than we had tested. We spent a lot of time around 100 miles per hour [in race trim] and our testing speeds were more in the 60 to 70-mile range. Then, once we sort of got around that, the car got updated so you can drive it even faster.”

In rally racing, some incidents are out of a driver’s control. Even peeking around another car can be dangerous because of potholes that have recently been gouged in the ground or large bushes that seem to sprout up between laps. A couple of rollovers brought Foust back to earth – but the pace was there and that was important.

“We had some challenges this season,” Foust said prior to the Copper X Prix. “We had a good start; made the final, which is a difficult thing to do in this series. I had two rolls in the first three events, but I have improved each time. Now we come into Round 4 in Chile in a pretty strong position. We have competitive times as a team. We are communicating really well and have our heads around this Odyssey vehicle.”

Foust’s words proved to be prophetic.

He won the Crazy Race – Extreme E’s version of a Last Chance Qualifier – and did so after passing the field. It was the same manner in which he qualified for Saudi Arabia’s finale, but this time things would be better. There were those hard-earned lessons on which to lean – and Foust had reps under his belt. He was not going to be caught off guard by any random obstacles.

Tanner Foust passed Sebastien Loeb heading to the Switch Zone in the Copper X Prix. (Photo by Sam Bagnall / LAT Images)

In the Copper X Prix finale, he pressured one of the best rally drivers in the history of the sport.

Pitching sideways through a tight left-hander late in his stint, Foust put his McLaren Extreme E Odyssey at the head of the pack in front of Sebastien Loeb as they headed to the Switch Zone. There, he would turn the car over to his co-driver Gilmour.

The Extreme E series pairs male and female drivers with both taking a turn behind the wheel.

After the driver change, Gilmour lost the lead momentarily to Loeb’s teammate Cristina Gutierrez, but as they charged toward the finish line, she surged ahead and crossed under the checkers first.

“What an improvement for the team over this year,” Foust said after the race. “We have struggled through some of the events, being in our first year in competition. We showed true pace this weekend; overtaking Sebastien Loeb was a highlight.

“Emma put in a great run in the Final. I was fortunate to go from last to first in the Crazy Race and then first in the Final but with some flag penalties, we had 20 seconds added to our time, which put us into fifth. It was a great feeling crossing the line first, I love this wide style track and the NEOM McLaren Odyssey was fantastic here.

“Hopefully we can continue that momentum into Uruguay.”

Loeb and Gutierrez were elevated to the top of the podium, but no one can take away the feeling of crossing under the checkers first.


Racing Responsibly

Since cars were first invented, racing has played a socially responsible role by improving safety. As Earth reaches a tipping point with climate change, racing needs to adapt to these new needs and requirements, which is where Extreme E’s unique strategy becomes increasingly important.

The Extreme E experience is more than simple racing. Each race is accompanied by a legacy program designed to offset damage done by climate change and to erase the footprint caused by the events.

Foust, a biology major from the University of Colorado, was given the chance to rekindle his interest and give back to the environment ahead of the Copper X Prix.

The Atacama is the oldest desert in the world at 150 million years. It is the driest place on earth and has the highest degree of ultraviolet light. And yet somehow life perseveres through underground rivers with oases dating back to Incan times. Foust participated in preparing a local habitat for the reintroduction of a critically endangered water frog to Chile’s longest river, the Loa, which snakes its way through the desert.

“I’m loving the experience,” Foust said. “I’m putting on a lot of Chapstick, a lot of sunscreen. What a fascinating part of the world. I never would have come here otherwise.

“I honestly am very honored to be a part of this sport. I am a huge believer in the fact that motorsports has done us good in the last 100 years. I think we benefit every single time we put our seatbelts on and drive down the road to the lessons learned in racing since the turn of the century. And I really hope motorsports continues that tradition.

“I think that motorsports like [Extreme E] does it in a responsible way, a gender-neutral way and a carbon-neutral way.”