Power fastest in IndyCar practice in Detroit

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In the round-up: As IndyCar gets back into action in Detroit after the Indianapolis 500, exciting news emerges from its new star name.

In brief

Power quickest in single Detroit practice session

Penske’s Will Power was fastest in the single practice session for IndyCar’s Detroit double-header, setting the pace by 0.1523 seconds.

Despite warm afternoon temperatures and a considerable amount of rubber laid down by IMSA and Indy Lights sessions, IndyCar drivers found the track slippery when they first headed out and it didn’t take long for Penske’s Scott McLaughlin and Chip Ganassi’s Jimmie Johnson to spin off and stop anyone else from setting laps.

The track was cleared while red flags were waved, at which point McLaughlin was actually top of the times.

After the restart the session was without drama, with four seconds being knocked off the fastest time by the time the clock had counted down to zero.

Andretti’s Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi both spent time at the top, while McLaren SP’s Patricio O’Ward was also in first place for a lengthy period of time when many were in the pits, but going into the final 10 minutes it was Power who looked the smoothest and ended up being the fastest.

Rossi briefly returned to the top shortly before AJ Foyt’s Sebastien Bourdais became Power’s closest opponent on pace. The Australian had the edge though, with O’Ward slotting back into third behind Bourdais at the end.

Alesi gets Super Formula stay after shock win

Giuliano Alesi will race in next weekend’s fourth round of the Super Formula season after he won on his second start in the series last time out.

The former Ferrari Driver Academy member relocated his career to Japan at the start of this year, racing in Formula 3-level series Super Formula Lights and the Super GT sportscar series.

However European commitments for ex-F1 driver Kazuki Nakajima meant Alesi got called up to take his Super Formula seat at the TOM’S team for the second round of the season at Suzuka and he qualified eighth and finished ninth on his debut.

With Nakajima unavailable for the Autopolis round after that, Alesi was handed the chance to race again and he ended up taking pole and then victory in a rain-shortened race. With travel restrictions continuing to sideline Nakajima, Alesi now has the chance to build on that result at Sportsland Sugo alongside his title bid in the SF Lights support series.

IndyCar stars expecting driveability shift in Detroit

The absence of a 2020 race and the addition of the aeroscreen will make for a dramatically different driving experience in IndyCar’s Detroit double-header according to McLaren SP’s drivers.

“It’s probably going to plough more than what it used to, ploughing meaning just a bunch of understeer,” said Patricio O’Ward.

“Historically the track just keeps getting bumpier and bumpier and bumpier every year, so I feel like this year will be more of a change than what we have felt from year to year in the past because there’s been two winters on it already from the last time we were there.”

While the aeroscreen was introduced in IndyCar last year, it wasn’t used on a street circuit in warm conditions until this year’s Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and it proved physically tough with the reduced air flow. The same is expected in Detroit, but its effect on car handling is still up for debate as it works “the front axle a lot harder” than before.

“I think tracks like this have been less affected by the aeroscreen,” said O’Ward’s team mate Felix Rosenqvist.

“When we came to St. Pete for the first time, it seemed like we were going pretty quick still. It seems like the faster the track and the higher speed corners are really affected worse by aeroscreen than like the long corners, and on a street track you generally just have 90-degree corners and you don’t really load up the car very long anywhere. I don’t think it’s going to be a massive difference to be honest. I think it’s going to be pretty good.”

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Comment of the day

Alfa Romeo believes the gains they’ve made with their C41 car this year is a “big step forward” but bad luck means its improved package has only taken two points in the hands of Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi over the first six races of 2021. However Wsrgo thinks it’s the drivers, rather than luck, holding the team back.

Before the legion of Kimi fans devour me I wonder if a part of this is down to drivers underperforming? I’m not really sure if either driver is driving beyond the level of the car on even a semi-regular basis, certainly nowhere near what Leclerc was doing in mid to late 2018.

Sadly for Alfa they’ve made the wrong choice of keeping the same driver line-up in a year when rules have remained static, and are faced with making a potentially Haas-like choice for 2022, when they really needed some continuity. Call me a hater all you like, but I’m not sure how fair it is to the likes of [Callum] Ilott and [Theo] Pourchaire whose careers would be nixed because a 42-year-old man wants to keep doing his hobby and isn’t really driving the team forward with his leadership substantially.Wsrgo

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Author information

Elliot Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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13 comments on “Power fastest in IndyCar practice in Detroit”

  1. James Coulee
    12th June 2021, 0:58

    About COTD, I suspect the team is the better judge of that, and with the data they have they believed this was the way to go. Maybe the drivers aren’t as bad as the commenter believes.

    1. @James Coulee True and also their right to keep the same lineup.

    2. I can’t disagree with @wsrgo.

      Kimi has past more than his prime and circulates round the track. Portugal race-ending contact with teammate was a rookie one.
      Antonio is not the driver I thought he’d become after his stellar GP2 campaign.

      I think the combination of good spirit and communication between Vasseur, Raikkonen and Giovinazzi is the key to their contracts, but final championship standings will talk.

    3. I’m sure the team understands what they need to do, but like we’ve seen from teams like Ferrari, there is often a hesitation in bringing in rookie drivers because of the sunken investments into developing them. However I do believe that between Pourchaire, Ilott and also Robert Shwartzman (who I omitted, thanks @jerejj) there is enough talent available who can both develop as well as push the team forward.

      But Alfa Romeo keen to have an Italian driver whilst also seemingly not having the gall to gently ask Kimi, ‘mate, so when do you think you’ll be done’ seems to have put them in a spot. Arguably I’d have chosen someone like Nico Hulkenberg for this year (next year he might be too rusty) to replace Kimi, Nico’s done a great job in leading car development in the past with his feedback, and put in Callum Ilott to replace Gio. For 2021, if Alfa are really interested in an Italian, they can just slap an Italian racing flag on Shwartzman, he lives in Italu and speaks fluent Italian and will also be unable to race under the Russia flag.

      1. James Coulee
        13th June 2021, 1:27

        No team lacks that gall, as we’ve all repeatedly seen.

        It’s impossible for us to judge from the outside if the drivers are out driving or under driving the car, so, for me, it’s a mute discussion.

        But people forget that the performance of a driver in a team isn’t also just about what he does during the sessions. A driver who can develop a car is as (or more) important as a fast one.

        Kimi, for instance, is quite dedicated to development and working with his engineers (from the mouth of one of them). The “this is just a hobby” face is just a (successful, but we should know better) character.

  2. Oh that 2011 Canadian Grand Prix… what a race!

    Still have part of it on a VHS tape. The sitting round the pits, for hours, part. But that last lap will be stored in my video memory forever. Or at least a few more years.

    1. @jimmy-cynic

      There’s about an 11 hours time difference between where I live and Canada. For me, the race started at around 12AM on Monday and lasted until 4AM.

      I had a presentation at 10AM that same day and really, the smart thing for me would’ve been to just call it a night during the long red flag period. But of course, being the idiot, I stayed up until the end of the race and honestly, that excitement I felt when Vettel ran wide at the final lap to give Button one of F1’s greatest victories of all time, was worth all the trouble.

      I don’t quite remember how the presentation went. But Button’s charge from the back is something I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget for the rest of my life.

      Reply moderated
    2. @jimmi-cynic VHS in the early-2010s.

    3. What a race and what a drive by Button. Definitely one of his best in F1.

  3. Re Giuliano Alesi: Guess they don’t need Kazuki…for now.
    Re Canada ’95: Still one of the best Canadian GPs to date.
    Re ADAC F4: What is absolutely going on.
    Can’t believe Canada 2011 has been 10 years.

  4. Also, The 2016 Canadian GP’s 5th anniversary.

    COTD forgot to include Robert Shwartzman, whom I regard as a more likely option than Pouchaire and even Ilott.

  5. It’s a full weekend of motorsport in Detroit this weekend anyway, two Indycar races and an IMSA one on the same track. It’s fantastic grosjean and magnussen are at the same track together at the same time.

  6. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    12th June 2021, 12:43

    Got to agree with the COTD. I love Raikkonen, but the guy’s open that this is a hobby not a sport to him anymore and Giovinazzi is “ok” – not great, not interesting, not a lot of potential – just okay. Neither of them are really pushing Alfa Sauber anywhere near as much as it should be. The team seems to be coasting while others in its performance bracket are moving forward.

    Illott & Shwartzman, and Zhou if he wasn’t tied to Alpine, are definitely good choices for rookies that are either available or soon to be available. Hulkenberg, Kvyat & Albon are all experienced or relatively experienced F1 drivers that are more than good enough to continue and arguably have more to prove and more hunger than their current lineup.

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