Robert Wickens, IndyCar, Schmidt, St Petersburg, 2018

Debut pole for Wickens as rookies stun in IndyCar qualifying

RaceFans Round-up

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In the round-up: Robert Wickens is on pole position for his debut IndyCar race at St Petersburg with two more rookies on the second row for the season-opening race today.

Today on RaceFans Live: IndyCar season-opener at St Petersburg

We’ll be following today’s IndyCar race live from 4pm UK time. The race is due to start at 4:36pm.

Rookie Robert Wickens caused a shock by denying Will Power a fourth consecutive pole position at the track (video above). Two more newcomers to the series – Matheus Leist and Jordan King – will start immediately behind them. Here’s the grid:

Row 11. Robert Wickens 1’01.6643
2. Will Power 1’01.7346
Row 23. Matheus Leist 1’01.7631
4. Jordan King 1’01.7633
Row 35. Takuma Sato 1’01.8821
6. Ryan Hunter-Reay 1’02.0385
Row 47. James Hinchcliffe 1’00.9986
8. Gabby Chaves 1’01.1191
Row 59. Scott Dixon 1’01.6527
10. Tony Kanaan 1’01.7213
Row 611. Simon Pagenaud 1’04.6739
12. Alexander Rossi 1’07.0377
Row 713. Josef Newgarden 1’00.4320
14. Sebastien Bourdais 1’00.9587
Row 815. Zach Veach 1’00.4585
16. Spencer Pigot 1’00.9668
Row 917. Ed Jones 1’00.5009
18. Marco Andretti 1’01.3013
Row 1019. Jack Harvey 1’01.0270
20. Max Chilton 1’01.3360
Row 1121. Charlie Kimball 1’01.1868
22. Zachary Claman Demelo 1’01.8567
Row 1223. Rene Binder 1’01.7003
24. Graham Rahal 1’04.0990

Read the RaceFans IndyCar season preview here:

What they’re saying

Sergey Sirotkin, Williams, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018
Sirotkin: “We could probably all do to learn a bit more”
A new occasional feature in the round-up highlighting more of what we’ve heard first-hand from the drivers and other F1 figures. First up here’s Sergey Sirotkin who we heard from on the final day of pre-season F1 testing on Friday:

I’m happy because today’s the last day of testing but it’s the best day of testing, so far. Which is also a little bit of a shame.

For sure we know the weather is not the best but it’s been the same for everybody. We could probably all do to learn a bit more than what we did in the two weeks of testing being here.

But it was, I would say fairly, the second proper day I’ve been in the car: 105 laps, [Lance] Stroll did a half-day, we also tested many interesting things and got interesting results on different fuel loads, compounds and so on. So it was quite a productive day.

It’s really good to end up like this but we also hoped that we’d get seven more days like what we had today.


Ferrari 412 T2, Circuit of the Americas, 2018
Ferrari 412 T2, Circuit of the Americas, 2018

The last V12-engined Ferrari, the 412 T2 driven by Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger – was among the Scuderia’s cars in action at the Circuit of the Americas last week.

Social media

Notable posts from Twitter, Instagram and more:

Comment of the day

Halo: Are you used to it yet?

I never really even notice the Halo anymore especially in the images that have been taken from a longer distance, i.e., further away from the cars.
Jere (@Jerejj)

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Renegade.Ego!

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On this day in F1

  • Born today in 1943: Arturo Merzario

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  • 37 comments on “Debut pole for Wickens as rookies stun in IndyCar qualifying”

    1. Re COTD

      I’m amazed how quickly it took for the halo to look ‘normal’ to me.

      1. That’s amazing! Lucky you, @andybantam.

        It’s still looks like some sort of industrial playskool add-on to me. Can’t unsee it. Although it does fit in with new heavy limo racing tank motif that F1 wants to project.

        That Ferrari 412 is gorgeous. That’s the F1 I used know and love – sleek and nimble. Still remember Alesi winning Canada in 1995. Those nimble F1 cars are gone forever.

        1. Yes. You’re right. The cars from 1995 are gone forever, as pretty and as nimble as they might be. I never said I like the halo, just that it doesn’t stand out quite so much. I’ve got used to looking at it and I suggest everyone does the same because it’s here now and that’s that. It would have to prove itself to be dangerous before there’s any chance of it being dropped. It’s here, let’s accept it, despite the fact that the cars look better without it.

          I remember thinking the high cockpit sides were ugly, but I don’t even see them anymore. Thumb tipped noses are awful, but I’m used to them now.

          Taking attention from the halo, I’m interested in some of the areo detailing on some of the cars, particularly the side pods. I’m excited to see the pecking order and hopefully, some good racing. I dont see any point in having an endless debate on a safety device that protects the driver’s head. It’s here to stay.

      2. I’m the stark opposite – it looks worse every time I see it. Especially from the side angle where it sticks out like a very sore thumb

      3. The halo only really stands out on the mclaren because they painted it black while the rest of the car is orange. But in other cars it blends in quite easily.

        1. @socksolid Funny how for me it is the opposite, although I will reserve some judgement for when we see them all together, in motion, on the track.

          Half the cars have painted halos and half are black (I assume plain carbon fibre), and so far I just find that on the ones who have left it black I see more of the painted body panels, whereas the painted halos draw my eyes immediately to them.

    2. Indy qualifying, wow! just wow !
      Should be very interesting tomorrow.
      @Early days but the impressive speed of Ed Carpenters car could bode well for Danica at Indy.

      1. Amazing car control in that drizzle at the start of the fast 6. Also the wind was pretty high – you can see the catch fencing bouncing!
        BBC weather says 30% chance of rain throughout the afternoon, so high chance of rain affecting some point of the race. Should be fun. Good to see the rookies shaking up the order. Would be nice to see Carlin do a bit better.

        Sad to see only 8 cars in Indy Lights (should have been 9, but pole sitter didn’t start).

        Didn’t realise that Harrison Scott and Jamie Caroline had made the move to the States, so good luck to them in Mazda and USF2000 respectively.

        1. Thaw Indycar qualifying was very entertaining amazing control on a constantly changing surface and great to see those rookies giving the old timers what’s for! Also, all the practice sessions & suppport races on YouTube is how it should be done. Really looking forward to the race. A bumper field of 24 cars and the possibility of rain at some point – I’m excited for the start of the Indycar season in a way that I’m just not for F1.

    3. Guess which one has the longer wheelbase. Mercedes f1 car or this:

    4. 3 of the top 4 in St. Petersburg qualifying are rookies. Tomorrow should be a very interesting race especially considering it is likely to be a wet one.

    5. The only people who really notice the halo are those who have some sort of visceral hate for it, and are actively looking for it so they can have something to complain about. The rest of us will just be watching some racing.

      1. I don’t see the halo anymore because I’m still marvelled at how good the back looks without the shark fin ;)

    6. Stunned by Wickens pole! Got lucky with the conditions. Should be interesting to see what happens tomorrow and rain expected. Super loose cars on a wet track, line up the parts truck.

    7. Great to see Wickens on pole. Anyone who’s followed his career knows how much talent he has. To get the fortune of having a wet/dry qualifying session to show off your skills in your debut race – how awesome.

      There was also the little story this weekend of Sebastien Loeb returning to the WRC….and leading.

      Deep analyzing of the different times and tyre compound normalization of the Mercedes vs. the Ferrari ?? ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

      1. @gitanes, the World Rally Championship is something of a joke these days though – when, as was the case a few years ago when VW were still around, they had to persuade VW not to develop their cars because nobody was able to produce a quick enough car, or the commercial rights holder going bankrupt a few years ago because nobody wanted to pay for the coverage rights, or the utter farce when the timing system once completely broke down midway during the Monte Carlo rally, you get the sense of a series that is in pretty ill health.

        Equally, is it necessarily a good sign when, even if he is a former champion, Loeb can, having retired several years ago and being about a decade older than the rest of the field, simply turn up and immediately be right on the pace? Loeb may be talented, but given that he was already commenting about the decline in his fitness about 8 years ago (a few years before he retired), if he’s able to come in now and still be on the pace, couldn’t that also be viewed as a sign that the strength of the WRC field is not what it once was?

        1. FlyingLobster27
          11th March 2018, 12:17

          More a sign that Loeb wasn’t first on the road on day 1 of a gravel rally, Anon.
          I was disappointed Citroën had called him up. Plenty of upcoming talent, renewed manufacturer interest and they pick the man of the previous decade? *points away from Loeb* The future’s that way, guys!

      2. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
        11th March 2018, 13:13

        Yep, very intrigued to see what RW can do back in single seaters again.

    8. I wasn’t expecting to receive COTD, but thanks for it anyway.

    9. Why are those Indy quali times all over the place as you go down the grid?

      1. They have a knockout qualifying system like in F1, so it’s possible for drivers to set slower times later in the session. On top of that in the first phase of qualifying the field is split in two.

        So if you look at the grid from row seven to the back are those who went out in the first round, with those from one session on one side of the grid and those from the other opposite. The next set of cars went out in the second phase (Q2) and the front three rows are those who made it to the fast six (Q3).

        1. Cheers
          Suddenly those fast and furious sequel titles make sense to me, Fast Five etc

    10. Looks like Robert Wickens should be the Canadian in F1, while Lance Stroll’s Dad should be buying rides alongside Max Chilton.
      Personally I will never get “used to” seeing this abomination known as the halo.

    11. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      11th March 2018, 10:01

      So many people saying they will never get used to the halo. Think about that F1 drivers used to not wear helmets. People are not complaining about “those ugly things” on everybody’s heads. We have got used to them and they look normal but may have looked really strange at the time as you no longer will have been able to see the drivers heads. From the research they have done on the halo, there is clearly a benefit to it. If it stays on F1 cars for years to come, I’m sure it will appear as totally normal.

      I personally don’t think it is any more ugly than some of the 2014 noses, especially on the Toro Rosso and Caterham. And to me, the halo has a much more important purpose than they did.

      1. And if the drivers started driving the cars from their garages using fly-by-wire I supposed people would get “used to” that as well, at least those few thousand that would be left who bothered to watch. There are consequences to the intentional neutering of the sport.

        1. Ya that’s an apples to apples analogy.

      2. AntonioCorleone
        11th March 2018, 22:21

        That Caterham nose of 2014 was awful, why did you even mention it. It a distressing image to have in your head.

    12. Not to take anything away from the indycar rookies, but the commentator mentioned that this years indycar is a new design philosophy, far less aero downforce and more mechanical grip to encourage close racing, which is exactly what last years indy lights car was like. i’ll be following the race series closely to compare with F1.

    13. In terms of the new Indycar it seems that it shares a lot of the negative characteristics of ground effect cars of old.

      You have to run the car very low & very stiff to keep the platform as stable as possible. However on a super bumpy street circuit like st.pete if you run the car as stiff as you ideally need to then you just start bouncing from bump to bump rather than riding them so you have to soften the car. However when you soften the car you introduce more roll which disrupts the airflow of the underwing/diffuser which results in huge changes of grip, Especially under heavy braking when the front dips/rear rises which immediately shifts the balance forward & takes away a massive chunk of grip from the rear (Some have found the diffuser is stalling if it rises enough).

      The feeling seems to be that these cars will be able to follow closer, However it’s also thought that overtaking may actually end up been a bit trickier because the margin for error under braking is now so much smaller & the balance shift under heavy/late braking disrupts the car so much that trying a late outbraking move is much more likely to pitch you sideways/into a spin than it was in the past….. Hence why so many drivers have been skating wide at turns 1 & 4 this weekend as they try braking later.

      General feeling appears to be we could see more off’s/accidents & yellow flags this year.

      1. Thanks @gt-racer We’ll soon know more. Very interesting.

      2. Nice explanation. The huge decrease of DF has made the new IndyCars a handful as they are constantly sliding , correcting, sawing at the steering wheel. The drivers say it’s very stressful because they’re constantly at the “edge”. Amazing that the new formula is so completely different than the cars of the Aero Wars that had higher DF than F1 cars. Should be highly entertaining.

      3. @gt-racer This comment has certainly aged well.

    14. A hair raising ride with Hinch around St. Pete

    15. I was there at the Ferrari Challenge at the Circuit Of The Americas yesterday but I don’t remember seeing the 412 running. I got some photos from inside their garage and never saw the T412. They brought 7 F1 cars with them. Regardless, it was epic!

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