Grosjean leads all-Andretti front row after crash-strewn St. Petersburg qualifying


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Andretti Autosport locked out the front row in qualifying for the IndyCar Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, with ten-year Formula 1 veteran Romain Grosjean winning pole position, ahead of F1 aspirant Colton Herta.

Grosjean took the second pole position of his IndyCar career, his first since joining the Andretti team last season. But he had to wait to get the chance to set his flying lap after two incidents in the Fast Six session of qualifying.

On his out lap, new Andretti Autosport driver Kyle Kirkwood locked up heading into the tight right-hand turn 13, and smashed the left-front quarter of his number 27 Dallara-Honda into the concrete barriers, bringing out the red flags. But despite the humiliating end to his first Fast Six appearance, he was still guaranteed a career-best fifth-place starting position.

That was because after the session resumed, Scott McLaughlin clipped the wall at the exit of turn 10, and spun exiting the fast right-left chicane before turn 13. He came to a stop, causing another red flag. McLaughlin, who won this race from pole position last year, will start sixth.

Finally, the remaining three minutes and 17 seconds were run without incident. With the two remaining Andretti drivers on a fresh set of alternate compound tyres, Herta took provisional pole with a time of 59.969 seconds – only for Grosjean to snatch the top spot away with a time of 59.553, good enough for pole position and just two-tenths off the outright lap record set last year by Will Power.

McLaren’s Pato O’Ward qualified third-fastest, best of the Chevrolet-powered cars, ahead of last year’s Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson in fourth, leading the charge for Chip Ganassi Racing.

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2021 IndyCar champion Álex Palou, the series’ most recent race winner from the end of 2022, qualified in seventh next to Felix Rosenqvist. Six-time series champion Scott Dixon qualified ninth, while two-times and defending series champion Will Power could qualify no better than tenth at a track where he’s taken nine pole positions in the past.

Christian Lundgaard had a tricky start to Q2 when he dived into the run-off at turn four. He returned to finish the session and qualified 11th, while his Rahal Letterman Lanigan team mates Graham Rahal and Jack Harvey missed the cut for Q2 entirely. Alexander Rossi, in his first qualifying session with McLaren, was 12th.

Among the notable names that didn’t advance out of the Q1 group stages were Simon Pagenaud, who locked up his front tyres heading into turn four, and hit the tyre barriers, causing a red flag with just 12 seconds left.

Two-times champion Josef Newgarden also failed to advance out of the group stages, qualifying in 14th, ahead of Hélio Castroneves in 15th. Rinus VeeKay was unhappy after being baulked by Newgarden on the approach to turn 10, which cost the Carpenter driver any chance of advancing further – he’ll start 24th.

Four rookies made their first qualifying attempts. While none of them advanced past the group stages, Ferrari Driver Academy alumnus Marcus Armstrong was the quickest, qualifying 13th in his number 11 Ganassi/Honda. Among the other rookies, Agustin Canapino starts 21st, Sting Ray Robb is 23rd and Benjamin Pedersen 27th.

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Grand Prix of St Petersburg qualifying results

128Romain GrosjeanAndrettiHonda
226Colton HertaAndrettiHonda
35Pato O’WardMcLarenChevrolet
48Marcus EricssonGanassiHonda
527Kyle KirkwoodAndrettiHonda
63Scott McLaughlinPenskeChevrolet
710Alex PalouGanassiHonda
86Felix RosenqvistMcLarenChevrolet
99Scott DixonGanassiHonda
101Will PowerPenskeChevrolet
1145Christian LundgaardRLLHonda
127Alexander RossiMcLarenChevrolet
1311Marcus ArmstrongGanassiHonda
142Josef NewgardenPenskeChevrolet
15106Helio CastronevesMeyer ShankHonda
1618David MalukasCoyne/HMDHonda
1714Santino FerrucciFoytChevrolet
1829Devlin DeFrancescoAndrettiHonda
1930Jack HarveyRLLHonda
2015Graham RahalRLLHonda
2178Agustin CanapinoJuncos HollingerChevrolet
2277Callum IlottJuncos HollingerChevrolet
2351Sting Ray RobbCoyne/RWRHonda
2421Rinus VeeKayCarpenterChevrolet
2560Simon PagenaudMeyer ShankHonda
2620Conor DalyCarpenterChevrolet
2755Benjamin PedersenFoytChevrolet

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Author information

RJ O'Connell
Motorsport has been a lifelong interest for RJ, both virtual and ‘in the carbon’, since childhood. RJ picked up motorsports writing as a hobby...

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One comment on “Grosjean leads all-Andretti front row after crash-strewn St. Petersburg qualifying”

  1. CD (@clipperdael)
    5th March 2023, 12:10

    Here’s hoping for the annoyed Veekay recovery drive!

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