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Gasly’s USGP no-show in vain as Super Formula finale is cancelled

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Red Bull junior and Toro Rosso Formula 1 driver Pierre Gasly’s absence from the United States Grand Prix was in vain after the Super Formula season finale was canceled due to a typhoon.

2016 GP2 champion Gasly was placed in Super Formula by Red Bull for 2017, only to be drafted in at Toro Rosso for the Malaysian Grand Prix earlier this month.

Gasly was supposed to see out the F1 season, but a joint call by Red Bull and Honda saw the Frenchman stick to his prior commitments and skip this weekend’s USGP in order to fight for the Super Formula title at Suzuka.

Entering the final race weekend half a point back from series leader Hiroaki Ishiura, Gasly stood a chance of becoming the first rookie Super Formula champion in over 20 years.

However, with heavy rain in the area affecting qualifying, officials at Suzuka announced the remainder of the meeting would be canceled due to a typhoon in the area, declaring Ishiura the 2017 champion.

Gasly’s absence from the USGP has paved the way for Porsche factory driver Brendon Hartley to make his surprise F1 debut with Toro Rosso in Austin, with the New Zealander set to qualify today.

Gasly is due to return to Toro Rosso for the final three races of the F1 season, starting with next weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix.

Valtteri Bottas takes pole position for season-opening Austrian GP

Leonhard Foeger/Pool via Getty Images
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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas upstaged Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to take pole position Saturday for the Formula One Austrian GP.

The Finnish driver edged out the world champion by 0.012 seconds to claim the top spot for the season opener at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg. He clenched his fist as he climbed out of his car and shared a hug with Hamilton.

“It’s something special when you push the car to the limit,” said Bottas, who is chasing an eighth career win. “Feels so good. It’s very impressive (from the team).”

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was third, and Lando Norris gave McLaren a boost by finishing fourth. Verstappen has won the past two years here, including 2019 when he started third behind Hamilton and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

“It’s going to be interesting quite a bit warmer tomorrow and hopefully this will play to our advantage,” Verstappen said. “Today, Mercedes was on a different level, unfortunately. Last year we were also a little bit off in qualifying so I expect we will be a bit better in the race.”

Bottas had the leading time when drivers embarked on their final laps and beat his own mark before sliding off the track into the gravel.

Hamilton was chasing a record-extending 89th career pole. He was ahead but then dropped off slightly as Bottas secured a 12th career pole.

“Great job by Valtteri. It’s a great start to the season,” Hamilton said. “We show year on year that we continue to be the best team. We’re open-minded … constantly learning from each other and pushing the boundaries.”

Ferrari struggled for speed, with Leclerc nearly one second behind in seventh and Sebastian Vettel failing to make it into the third and final part of qualifying, known as Q3. He starts the race from 11th on the grid.

Vettel is leaving Ferrari at the end of the season with his future in F1 uncertain.

Earlier, Hamilton posted the fastest time in morning practice. The 35-year-old British driver was also quickest in both sessions on Friday.

Midway through third practice, F1 newcomer Nicholas Latifi misjudged the exit of a turn and spun his Williams car into a protective tire wall.