F1: Lewis Hamilton takes pole position at rain-soaked Styrian GP

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SPIELBERG, Austria — Six-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton showed he’s still the best driver in wet conditions, keeping his composure on a rain-drenched track to take pole position Saturday for the Styrian Grand Prix.

It was the Mercedes driver’s record-extending 89th career pole in F1 and particularly impressive as he first beat Red Bull driver Max Verstappen’s mark and then his own leading mark on his final lap.

“That was awesome,” Hamilton said after placing 1.216 seconds ahead of Verstappen (who led practice Friday) and 1.398 clear of McLaren driver Carlos Sainz Jr.

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Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas qualified fourth after taking pole position and winning last Sunday’s Austrian GP.

It was another dismal day for Ferrari, with Sebastian Vettel 10th and Charles Leclerc 11th.

Driving rain washed out the third and final practice session at midday and threatened qualifying altogether. But the cars managed to finally get out onto the Red Bull Ring at around 3:45 p.m. local time (1345 GMT) even though rain was still lashing down.

In the event of a complete washout, qualifying would have been moved to Sunday morning.

With drivers told the rain would soon get heavier, they were advised to post a solid time quickly in order to get into the second part of qualifying.

Verstappen said, “I can’t see a thing,” and Romain Grosjean slid off track into gravel.

Some unexpected names popped up at the top of the F1 leaderboard, before order was restored as Lewis Hamilton, Bottas and Verstappen swapped leading times.

“Leave me to it,” Hamilton said over radio, trying to keep his concentration with water spraying everywhere in front and around him.

With two minutes left in Q1, Italian driver Antonio Giovinazzi lost control of his Alfa Romeo, which swerved sideways and then backward into a crash barrier. His car had to be lifted off the track.

The rain fell so heavily throughout the morning that firefighters had to remove excess water from the roof of one empty hospitality building. The race is being held without fans because of the novel coronavirus (COVD-19) pandemic.

The race is changing names from last week but still is being held at the same track in Spielberg, which is surrounded by the Styrian mountains.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III