Bottas on pole, Mercedes front-row lock-out in Abu Dhabi qualifying

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Valtteri Bottas edged out Mercedes Formula 1 teammate Lewis Hamilton in the final stage of qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Saturday to pick up the final pole position of the 2017 season.

After lagging behind Hamilton through all three practice sessions, Bottas appeared to make a step towards his teammate early in qualifying before taking provisional pole with a stunning opening lap in Q3 at the Yas Marina Circuit.

Bottas looked to have thrown away his advantage after a slow start to his final Q3 lap prompted Mercedes to send him back to the pits, with Hamilton improving and on course for his fourth pole in Abu Dhabi.

A mistake at the final corner saw Hamilton run wide and lose time, failing to improve in the process to leave Bottas on pole position for the season-closer.

As Mercedes locked out the top two positions, Ferrari and Red Bull shared the second and third rows, with Sebastian Vettel leading the way in third place ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, who squeezed ahead of Kimi Raikkonen with his final qualifying lap.

Max Verstappen had a difficult qualifying in the second Red Bull, finishing over a second off Bottas in sixth, with Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg ending the session as the leading midfielder in P7.

Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon grabbed eighth and ninth place on the grid for Force India, while Felipe Massa will start his final F1 grand prix from P10 on the grid after barging his way through to Q3 at the expense of Fernando Alonso.

The final qualifying session of the McLaren-Honda partnership failed to offer much joy as both Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne dropped out in Q2, finishing 11th and 13th respectively.

Carlos Sainz Jr. failed to make it through to Q3 after a slow final effort due to a suspected power unit issue, taking 12th, while Kevin Magnussen and Lance Stroll filled out the Q2 dropzone in 14th and 15th.

The race for P6 in the constructors’ championship took an early twist in qualifying as both Toro Rossos and one of the Haas drivers were eliminated at the first hurdle, playing to Renault’s favor.

Romain Grosjean was bumped out in Q1 by Stroll’s late lap, while Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley were 17th and 20th respectively, split by the Sauber pair of Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson.

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

 

Steve Torrence takes NHRA points lead with Gatornationals victory

NHRA Gainesville Steve Torrence
Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two-time defending NHRA Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence took the points lead Sunday in the AMALIE Motor Oil Gatornationals, beating his father, Billy, in the final round at Gainesville Raceway.

Torrence had a 3.809-second run at 322.11 mph to win for the third time this year and 39th overall. He is now on track for another championship despite missing the season opener.

“We’ve got some good momentum and to be in the points lead, it’s a testament to how hard these guys work,” Steve Torrence said after the NHRA Gainesville victory. “We’ve just got to stay focused and concentrate on what the task at hand is, and that’s trying to win a championship. These guys give me an unbelievable race car and you just try not to screw it up.”

Ron Capps won in Funny Car, Alex Laughlin in Pro Stock and Matt Smith in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Capps raced to his second win this year and 66th overall, beating Tim Wilkerson with a 3.937 at 323.12 in a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat.

Laughlin topped Aaron Stanfield with a 7.068 at 204.76 in a Chevrolet Camaro for his first win this season and fourth in his career. Smith rode to his first victory in 2020 and 25th overall, topping Andrew Hines with a 6.843 at 196.99 on an EBR.