Carlos Sainz captures pole for USGP in Austin; Leclerc second but facing grid penalty

Carlos Sainz pole Austin
Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images
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AUSTIN, Texas — Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz will start on pole position for the United States Grand Prix after season champion Max Verstappen finished third in Saturday’s qualifying session that began shortly after his Red Bull team learned that founder and owner Dietrich Mateschitz had died.

Verstappen will still start on the front row. Charles Leclerc, Sainz’s Ferrari teammate, qualified second but must take a 10-place grid penalty for using new engine parts. Every winner in the previous nine races at the Circuit of the Americas has started from the front row.

Verstappen is chasing a single-season record-tying 13th victory. He clinched his second consecutive season championship at the previous race in Japan.

Verstappen and his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez had to drive less than an hour after the team was gathered together to be told Mateschitz had died at age 78.

“What he has done for me, my career so far, my life,” said Verstappen, who joined F1 as a 17-year-old with Red Bull’s junior team, then named Toro Rosso. “It’s a very tough day … We tried to give it everything but unfortunately we missed out. But there’s a race tomorrow and we’ll try and make (him) proud.”

Since its founding, Red Bull has won six driver championships and four constructors titles. The team is close to clinching a fifth team championship and could wrap it up on Sunday.

A Verstappen win would tie the season record held by Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel. In nine years of racing at the Circuit of the Americas, every winner has started from the front row.

Matesich bought the Jaguar team in 2004 and rebranded it as Red Bull in 2005. He added a second team to the Red Bull stable when he bought the Minardi program renamed it Toro Rosso in 2006 to be a program for training younger drivers. That team is now Alpha Tauri.

Red Bull’s greatest success came with Sebastian Vettel’s four consecutive driver’s championships from 2010-2013.

NEOM McLaren Formula E announces Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast for 2023 season

McLaren Formula E Hughes
McLaren Racing
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Doubling down on their commitment to electric auto sports, McLaren Racing announced Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast to compete in the 2023 Formula E Series (FE), which completes their driver lineup.

The NEOM McLaren FE team was formed by the acquisition of the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team that won the 2021 and 2022 championships with Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries behind the wheel.

“Today’s announcement feels like a long time coming,” said Ian James, managing director of NEOM McLaren Electric Racing in a release. “Since May this year, when we first announced McLaren Racing’s entry into Formula E, we have been working tirelessly to get in place the best possible team and structure for sustainable success.

“On the one hand, we have been working on the retention of the amazing talent that already was in place before going into the transitional phase. I’m proud to say I think we’ve done a great job on that front.

“On the other hand, we have been focusing on putting in place new processes and new talent – and the latter includes the drivers.”

The driver lineup clasps the two hands together.

Hughes brings 10 years racing experience in single seater cars, including a role with the acquired Mercedes-EQ team as a reserve and development driver for the past two seasons. He is the 2013 BRDC Formula 4 champion and has multiple wins in Formula 2, including two in 2020.

Announced in August, Rast joins the team after earning two podium finishes and six top-fives in 22 career Formula E starts for Audi Sport ABT before returning to the DTM Series last year. Rast’s best finish in Formula E came in the Puebla E Prix when he finished second to teammate Lucas di Grassi by less than a half second.

McLaren’s commitment to Formula E comes one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour in the driver lineup. After a modest start to the season, the McLaren XE drivers crossed the finish line first in Round 4 in Chile, but were assessed a time penalty that dropped them to fifth. Last week in the season finale in Uruguay, they held onto a hard-earned second place finish.