Kimball leads IndyCar warmup at Barber

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Charlie Kimball topped this morning’s warm-up session for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama (3 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network) with a time of 1 minute, 9.0313 seconds around the 2.3-mile Barber Motorsports Park layout. Kimball is aiming for his second career IZOD IndyCar Series podium and will start fifth on the grid this afternoon after cracking the Firestone Fast Six for the first time ever yesterday in qualifying.

Kimball was followed by fellow Honda-powered driver Josef Newgarden (Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing), who finished P2 in the warm-up with a time of 1 minute, 9.1685 seconds. Tony Kanaan of KV Racing Technology led the Chevrolet camp this morning with the third-fastest lap (1 minute, 9.3080 seconds), with Scott Dixon (1 minute, 9.4123 seconds) and Simona de Silvestro (1 minute, 9.4301 seconds) completing the top five.

As for your front row for today’s 90-lap main event, defending series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay and defending Barber champion Will Power were 18th and 19th-fastest respectively, with both drivers posting times in the 1:10 range (Hunter-Reay at 1:10.6615, Power at 1:10.6809).

‘Still quite early’ for Ricciardo to think about Red Bull F1 future

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Daniel Ricciardo feels it is “still quite early” to make a decision about his Red Bull Formula 1 future despite seeing teammate Max Verstappen announce on Friday he would be staying with the team until 2020.

Verstappen, 20, put pen to paper on an enhanced F1 contract with Red Bull, with his previous deal due to expire at the end of next season in parallel to Ricciardo’s own agreement.

Ricciardo was asked following practice on Friday why he is yet to strike a new deal for himself with Red Bull, and explained he is in no rush to make a final decision when he has over a year to run on his current contract.

“It’s not that I’ve said no to anything. It’s just still quite early I think,” Ricciardo explained.

“People talked a little bit about contracts and the silly season for next year, but I thought that would still happen next year. It’s still quite early.

“If I’m to try and extract some positives out of his news it’s that it gives us good confidence for next year. He and his management see a lot of positives in the team to continue like that.

“I’m 100 per cent here next year, I can at least say that, and I think it gives both of us confidence that we’ll keep progressing the way we are.”

Red Bull said upon announcing Verstappen’s new deal that it wants to “build a team around him”, with the 20-year-old standing out as a once-in-a-generation talent.

The focus surrounding Verstappen has not left Ricciardo feeling as though he is in the shade or in any way playing second-fiddle to the Dutchman, stressing he has no internal concerns at Red Bull.

“For sure, as far as media goes, he certainly gets a lot of attention. He’s broken records for his age and things like that, so rightly so,” Ricciardo said.

“Take the media out of it, as far as inside the team, new parts on the car, things like this, there’s always been parity and equality.”

Verstappen is only the third driver to commit to a deal beyond the end of next season, following Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari and Fernando Alonso at McLaren on multi-year contracts.

All 10 F1 teams have at least one free seat for 2019, making Ricciardo a possible candidate for seats with either Mercedes or Ferrari were he to consider a move away from Red Bull.

Speaking to British broadcaster Sky Sports, Red Bull F1 advisor Helmut Marko said he felt Ricciardo was “putting himself on the market” by waiting to make a decision on his future, but that talks would take place when possible.