Lewis Hamilton jumps ahead of Valtteri Bottas to capture F1 pole

F1 Lewis Hamilton Tuscan
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images
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MUGELLO, Italy — Lewis Hamilton took F1 pole position Saturday for the Tuscan Grand Prix ahead of his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, whose final attempt was ended after he had to slow down because Esteban Ocon spun on track just ahead of him.

While Hamilton clinched a record-extending 95th pole, it was hard luck for Bottas. He now trails Hamilton 7-2 this season in poles all won by Mercedes.

“It’s disappointing as I’ve been quick all weekend,” Bottas said.

Hamilton waved to a smattering of fans in the stands near the finish line. They are allowed at a race for the first time this season during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Bottas looked in excellent form, leading all three practice sessions and the first section of qualifying known as Q1.

“It’s been a really tough weekend if I’m honest. Valtteri was quicker than me all day yesterday and even this morning,” Hamilton said. “I’ve been working hard in the background to improve on my lines. Valtteri did a great job pushing me, but I’m really, really happy to be on pole.”

Hamilton stepped up a gear in Q2 and finished just .059 seconds ahead in Q3, yet Bottas did not get a chance to beat that time because Ocon’s spin meant the yellow flags came out and drivers behind him had to slow down.

“The yellow flag definitely hampered me. I had more to come but didn’t get the opportunity,” Bottas said. “It’s a long run down to Turn 1 tomorrow and the headwind could help me there.”

He may not get many more chances after that because the Mugello circuit is tough for overtaking.

Max Verstappen was third for Red Bull, 0.365 seconds behind Hamilton.

“I personally didn’t expect to fight for pole but overall this weekend it has been promising,” said Verstappen, who won at Silverstone this season. “To be third here in qualifying, we can be very happy with that. The track is amazing to drive and qualifying was really something special.”

Verstappen’s teammate Alexander Albon was fourth ahead of Charles Leclerc in a commendable fifth for struggling Ferrari.

Hamilton leads the championship from Bottas by 47 points after winning five of the first eight races in his bid to equal Michael Schumacher’s record seven F1 titles. A win on Sunday would move him just one behind Schumacher’s record of 91 GP wins.

Ferrari is competing in its 1,000th F1 race and was once the team to beat in the way Mercedes is now, having won 238 races, taken 228 pole positions and secured 254 fastest laps. Schumacher won five straight titles with the famed Italian manufacturer from 2000-4, but this season has been one of Ferrari’s worst in memory.

Four-time F1 champion Vettel has not even finished in the top five in a race this season and goes from 14th on the grid.

One week after winning his first F1 race at the Italian GP in Monza, Frenchman Pierre Gasly starts 16th.

He was one of the five drivers eliminated from Q1 and let out an angry expletive.

“I’m disappointed because we were good in practice, but we made errors in qualifying that cost us,” he said. “It’s annoying to make these mistakes.”

Earlier Saturday, Bottas bettered Verstappen by just .017 with Hamilton .083 back from Bottas in third in warm and sunny conditions.

Hamilton looked set to beat Bottas when he led on the first time split, only to fall back in the second and third sectors. Verstappen then went out for one last run late in the session and split the two Mercedes in an encouraging sign for Red Bull on a circuit which has ultra-fast corners.

But Vettel placed a demoralizing 18th on a circuit which is actually owned by Ferrari and which he tested on as recently as June.

Mugello’s 5.2-kilometer (3.2-mile) Autodromo Internazional track, nestled amid a stunning backdrop of the Tuscan hills, usually hosts MotoGP and is playing host to an F1 race for the first time. Drivers have been full of praise for it.

“The track is crazy. You go through Turns 6, 7, 8, 9 at 170-180 mph (274-290 kph) and the G-force we’re pulling is insane,” Hamilton said. “It gets more and more as you go through.”

Chase Sexton wins Triple Crown Anaheim 2 Supercross: Levi Kitchen unseats Jett Lawrence in 250s

Supercross Anaheim 2
Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media
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Chase Sexton won two of the three races in the Monster Energy Supercross Anaheim 2 Triple Crown, which was enough to overcome a fifth-place finish in Race 2 and give him the overall victory. It was the second Supercross win of his career.

“Super big night for me,” Sexton told NBC Sports’ Will Christien. “After last weekend with that being a struggle, I just need to come out here and stop the bleeding a little bit and I did that tonight.”

Sexton suffered a crash on Lap 1 of his heat, sending him into Last Chance Qualifier. The bad gate pick put him in a difficult position to start the race and he was able to climb to only fifth at the checkers.

At Anaheim 2, three riders entered the final race of the Triple Crown in a winner-take-all scenario. Sexton, Jason Anderson and Eli Tomac each had a shot at victory. It raised the intensity level for all riders in an evening that featured a lot of comers and goers.

Jason Anderson took the early lead in Race 3, which set him up for the overall victory. Sexton stalked and passed him midway through the race and then a minor mistake late allowed Webb to slip around as well. Anderson’s 5-1-3 gave him second overall.

“I had a tough couple of rounds, getting off that Anaheim 1 crash and then last week weekend I fumbled a little bit, but I’m excited to get back on the box and start moving forward,” Anderson told Jason Thomas.

Anderson finished seventh in the first two rounds of 2023.

RESULTS: How they finished for the 450 Main in Anaheim 2

Ken Roczen was the model of consistency in the opening rounds and at Anaheim 2. In three races so far this year, he’s gotten progressively better each time with a fifth in A1, a fourth last week in San Deigo and a third this week.

With results of 2-3-4, he earned his first podium of the season, which lands him fourth in the standings.

“This was hard earned,” Roczen said after the race. “I completely botched the start and then to have to work my way up. I only happen on the very last lap to step up here on the podium.”

Webb’s solid second-place finish in the third race allowed him to leapfrog several riders and finish fourth overall, but a seventh in Race 1 kept him off the podium. He improved in each race in Anaheim, however, with a 7-4-2.

With a 4-6-5, Dylan Ferrandis rounded out the top five.

The intensity of the race was a little too much for Tomac.

While battling side-by-side with Webb in Race 3 at the one-third mark, Tomac jumped wide and crashed hard. He fell to 14th, doing some damage to his bike in the process. He advanced only one position in that race to 13th. His first two races, a third and second, were strong enough to give him sixth overall. He retains the points lead, but it has shrunk to a gap of only four over Sexton and Webb.

Malcolm Stewart injured late in the week and was not able to mount.


Levi Kitchen became the first rider to unseat Jett Lawrence in the Triple Crown format at Anaheim 2 and won the overall with consistency. In his three races, Kitchen finished 4-2-2 to narrowly edge the winner of the first two races.

“This whole day; this is unbelievable. I took a few good slams in practice and I was down on myself,” Kitchen told NBC Sports Jason Thomas afterward. “The first moto I got a good start and got shuffled back, then I knew I just needed to be consistent.”

Jett Lawrence saved his best for last – which wasn’t hard given the struggles he experienced in the first two races.

Despite those problems, he entered Race 3 of the Triple Crown three points behind Kitchen after suffering a pair of disappointing races by his personal measuring stick. In the first and second 250 races of the night, Lawrence hit the ground. He dropped to the final rider in the running order in Race 2 with a Lap 1 fall. But in both races, he was able to overcome his mistake and close the gap so that he had a chance to take his first Triple Crown win of his career.

Click here for full 250 West Main Results

Lawrence rode to third in Race 1 and sixth in Race 2. In the final race of the night, Lawrence did all he could. He earned the holeshot, but when Kitchen fell in behind him, Lawrence’s fate was sealed. His 3-6-1 tied him in points with Stilez Robertson, but the tiebreaker goes to the final round and his win secured second-place.

“I can definitely say Triple Crowns are not my thing,” Lawrence told NBC Sports Will Christien. “We have one more to try and fix this, so hopefully we can get that done.”

Lawrence will move into the 450 class for the Lucas Oil Motocross outdoor season and his 250 record book will be closed.

The best news for Lawrence is the other riders who entered this round in the top three had a worse night, so Lawrence leaves Anaheim with a 16-point gap on Cameron McAdoo and 17 over RJ Hampshire.

Roberston finished 6-1-3 to take the final step of the podium.

“Getting that win in the second Main meant a lot,” Roberston told Thomas. “I wish I could have done a little better in the third one, but we’re still up here on the box.”

Mitchell Oldenburg used consistency to earn fourth in the overall. He finished 5-4-6.

After missing the Main last week in San Diego, Max Vohland finished 7-8-4 to round out the top five.

RJ Hampshire set himself up as the early favorite with his Race 1 win. In Race 2, it all fell apart. He fell in the sand section and damaged his bike, finishing last in that race. The final event of the night for the 250s provided only a 13th-place finish, leaving Hampshire deep in the points.

Cameron McAdoo hard crash in qualification, which was scary news for a team that has seen three of their riders sidelined with injury. McAdoo was never quite able to get his rhythm with an 8-7-5.

2023 Race Recaps

San Diego: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Tomac wins opener for the first time

Anaheim 2 coverage

Power Rankings Week 2
SuperMotocross tightens playoff schedule
Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence go two-for-two in San Diego
Results and points after San Diego
Seth Hammaker to miss 250 E season opener with wrist injury
Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner with injury
Injury sidelines Austin Forkner for remainder of 2023 SX