‘A lot more to come’ from Bianchi

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Friday practice may only have been Jules Bianchi’s third outing in the Marussia MR-02, but the French rookie has revealed he is excited about the rest of the season following some impressive lap times.

“It has been a very good first practice for the team and for me, so I am quite happy given that it is only my third day in the car.

“It is very encouraging to know that while we have a good basis today, there is a lot more to come.”

Bianchi finished ahead of both Caterham drivers and teammate Max Chilton in FP1 and FP2, with the more impressive statistic being the three-tenth gap to Daniel Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas in the respective sessions. Marussia regularly found themselves a few seconds off the midfield in 2012, so the reduced gap suggests the team has made a big step forward.

Despite the strong performance, Bianchi revealed that the team still has work to do for the race on Sunday.

“The car is performing well but we have quite a lot of understeer and we need to improve this.

“As for the track, I like it a lot. It takes a bit of getting used to at first, but once you are up to speed it’s an amazing lap and now I can’t wait to do some more tomorrow.”

A member of the Ferrari Driver Academy, Bianchi has been touted by many as being a future star in Formula One. If he can continue this good form in qualifying and the race, the Australian Grand Prix could present Marussia with their best chance of scoring points for the first time in the sport which would be a massive achievement for Bianchi and the team.

UPDATED: INDYCAR Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama under red-flag race stoppage due to rain

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UPDATE: The INDYCAR Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama is under a red-flag race stoppage after 19 laps due to rain and puddling on the racing surface at Barber Motorsports Park.

Cleaners and dryers are on the track to try and get some of the water off the racing surface. The low spots on the track, as well as the front stretch, have been particularly troublesome and led to several spinouts and at least two wrecks (Charlie Kimball and outside front pole sitter Will Power).

Power’s day is done after suffering irreparable damage to the left side of his car after hydroplaning on the front straight and running into the inside retaining wall.

ORIGINAL STORY FOLLOWS:

Although rain has been falling for nearly an hour and the Barber Motorsports Park 2.3-mile permanent road course is drenched, the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama is underway on NBCSN.

The start of the race was moved up from 3:38 p.m. ET to take the green flag at 3:08 p.m. ET.

Josef Newgarden is the defending winner of this race and also will start from the pole for today’s race.

While the race is scheduled for 90 laps, there’s a possibility that if the weather worsens or if lightning appears, it could potentially be shortened to just two hours.

As can be expected, all cars are on rain tires to maximize grip.

Catch the race live on NBCSN.