Valtteri Bottas takes F1 pole for Portuguese GP, denies Lewis Hamilton 100th

F1 Portugal pole Bottas
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PORTIMAO, Portugal — Valtteri Bottas took the F1 pole position for the Portuguese Grand Prix and denied Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton a record-extending 100th Formula One pole Saturday.

Bottas clinched a much-needed 17th career pole after crashing in the last race and scoring no points.

“It’s a good feeling to be on pole, it’s been quite a while,” Bottas said. “I’ve worked very hard this week.”

He was 0.007 seconds ahead of Hamilton and 0.34 ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, making him the third different pole-sitter in three races. Hamilton and Verstappen earned the others.

“It definitely puts a smile on my face. I’ve been strong all weekend and it makes me really happy to put it all together,” Bottas said. “Qualifying hasn’t been my strong point in the first two races.”

Hamilton is aiming for his 97th win Sunday, while Bottas goes for his 17th victory, and Verstappen his 12th.

Verstappen looked in contention to clinch a fifth career pole after impressively topping the third and final practice earlier Saturday, but he made a small mistake in the last part of qualifying – known as Q3 – when he went outside of the track limits and failed to set a time. That meant his lap time was deleted and gave him only one more shot at the two Mercedes cars.

“It was a really difficult session to get grip, the car just snapped away from me and went wide,” Verstappen said. “It’s been really hit and miss anyway, the whole weekend. The layout of the track is amazing but the grip is not good.”

Hamilton also said the track, which was relaid with new tarmac for last year’s race, was very awkward to negotiate.

“It was a difficult session for everyone, it’s windy here and quite slippery,” the British veteran said. “Valtteri did a great job.”

As late afternoon temperatures cooled in Portugal’s Algarve region, it was a bad qualifying run for McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian has seven career wins but was among the five drivers eliminated from Q1, while Red Bull’s Sergio Perez went off track at Turn 4 and into gravel but had already done enough to get into Q2.

Hamilton led Q2 from Bottas and McLaren’s Lando Norris, while two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso was among the five to go out.

Earlier, Verstappen posted the fastest time in the third and final practice, followed by Hamilton, Bottas, and Perez.

Mercedes topped the first two practices Friday, through Bottas and then Hamilton.

The Portugal GP is the third race of the season.

Hamilton leads the championship by one point from Verstappen. Hamilton’s lead is courtesy of him taking a bonus point for the fastest lap at an incident-packed Emilia-Romagna GP, which Verstappen won. Hamilton won the season opener in Bahrain.

Bottas needs to find form after a poor race two weeks ago at Imola, where he was involved in a crash with Williams driver George Russell after an overtaking move went wrong. Bottas dropped to fifth place in the standings behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in what could be his final season with Mercedes.

“For the mental process, I just put those mistakes to one side,” Bottas said.

Travis Pastrana leads flag-to-flag in Nitro Rallycross as the series returns to America

Pastrana Nitro Rallycross
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Travis Pastrana waited until the final trip around ERX Motor Park to take his Joker Lap – a longer way around the course that all drivers must do at least once in a race – and came out cleanly to win his first Nitro Rallycross race of 2022. With this win, Pastrana is the third driver to visit Victory Lane in the first three rounds of the 2022-23 season.

“This is the closest to a motocross track,” Pastrana told Katie Osborne on Peacock. “Thank you so much for a beautiful facility. It’s been a rough start to the season and I’m so thankful to be back out here. We had a good run in the side-by-side and now for this. This is much needed.”

Another thing needed was the sense of improvement. And Pastrana earned that affirmation each time he completed a lap around the course.

“I get my lap times read out and they said ‘fastest time of the week,’ ‘fastest time of the week’ (each time around) ” Pastrana said. “This is really special. We’re a long way behind in the championship, but welcome to America.”

In a pre-race press conference, Pastrana said that as Nitro Rallycross heads back to America, it was time for an American to win and he made good on his promise. Pastrana took the early lead over Robin Larsson and let the back of his Subaru hang out, taking risks he might not otherwise take if not for his need to win.

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Larsson’s second-place finish completed a perfect sweep of the podium in three rounds. In fact, he has not yet finished worse than second after winning the opening round at Lydden Hill in the United Kingdom and finishing second at Strangnas in Sweeden.

Fraser McConnel rounded out the podium for his best result of the season. He finished fourth in each of the first two rounds.

Last year, Pastrana finished second in this race to Scott Speed before narrowly edging his teammate for the championship.

Andreas Bakkerud crashed in prelims, but rebounded to finish just off the block in fourth. Bakkerud won the second round ahead of his teammate Larsson.

Oliver Bennett completed the top five.

Minneapolis is the first of three rounds scheduled in the United States. Next on the schedule is Glen Helen, Calif. on Octo 30 and then Phoenix at Wild Horse Pass on November 12th. Nitro Rallycross will then head to Saudi Arabia in December to continue their 2022-23 season.