Penske, Ganassi drought highlight stats out of Long Beach

Leave a comment

We mentioned earlier today that top 10s in either qualifying or the race in the IZOD IndyCar Series have been spread around the grid fairly evenly. Here are some other stats of note beyond the top 10 disparity numbers:

  • Entrants from Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing (right) have been shut out of victory lane since Sonoma last year, when Ryan Briscoe won. That’s only a stretch of five races in between, but is the longest such streak since open wheel unification in 2008 (four in a row last year from Texas through Toronto was the longest).
  • Tristan Vautier took the first 10-spot grid penalty of the year. Coincidentally, his teammate Simon Pagenaud was the first victim of it last year at St. Petersburg. Long Beach last year had 12 grid penalty victims as all Chevrolet teams and a handful of Lotus runners performed unapproved engine changes.
  • Long Beach’s podium finishers from A.J. Foyt Racing, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Dale Coyne Racing represented the first race under IndyCar sanction to not have a driver from Penske, Ganassi or Andretti since Motegi 2003. The last Champ Car race, Will Power’s Long Beach win in 2008, featured a podium made up of entrants from KV Racing Technology and the now-defunct Forsythe Pettit and Pacific Coast Motorsports teams (Franck Montagny and Mario Dominguez).
  • And, lastly, Brazil will mark the one-year anniversary of Power’s last win. Who would have thought that was possible last April?

Hartley happy with ‘big progression’ on first day with Toro Rosso

Getty Images
Leave a comment

With 69 laps completed (28 in free practice one and 41 in free practice two) and respectable lap times in both sessions, Brendon Hartley quickly acclimated to a modern day Formula 1 chassis in his first run with Scuderia Toro Rosso in Friday practice for the United States Grand Prix.

The Porsche factory driver has been drafted into the team following a convoluted series of musical chairs that sees Daniil Kvyat back after a two-race absence, Carlos Sainz Jr. now at Renault and Pierre Gasly racing at the Super Formula season finale in Suzuka.

Over the time in the car today, Hartley experienced changeable conditions in FP1 before a more normal FP2, and discovered the new F1 cockpit after a day learning in the garage yesterday.

“A steep learning curve today! It all went pretty smoothly and I kept the car on track without making too many mistakes, so I’m quite happy,” the New Zealander reflected at day’s end.

“I didn’t really know what to expect from today because I just had so much to learn! I think I made quite a big progression throughout the day.

“The biggest difference from what I’m used to is the high-speed grip, it’s incredible here in Formula 1…it was quite an eye-opener! Another challenge are the tires, which are also quite different to what I’m used to. On the other hand, the long-run looks quite positive and I did a good job managing the tires there – the biggest thing I need to work on now is the new tire pace, and I’ll get another crack at it tomorrow morning before qualifying.

“All in all, I’d say it’s all coming together. We’ll now work hard and go through plenty of data tonight and hopefully I’ll make another step forward tomorrow.”

His best lap was 1.1 seconds up on Friday driver Sean Gelael, the Indonesian Formula 2 driver, in FP1 (1:39.267 to 1:40.406, good enough for 14th) and 1.1 seconds off the returning Kvyat in FP2 (1:37.987 to 1:36.761, good enough for 17th). Interestingly, the Gelael/Hartley combination in FP1 marked the second time in three races that Toro Rosso had a pair of drivers in its cars without a single Grand Prix start between them – Gasly’s debut at Malaysia was the other, when he and Gelael were in in FP1.

Coming into Friday’s running, Hartley said he was more ready for this opportunity now than he had been as a teenager. He admitted he’d called Red Bull’s Helmut Marko in the wake of Porsche’s LMP1 withdrawal news earlier this year to say he was game for any chance that might come.

“I’m a lot stronger than I was back then, basically. I wasn’t ready at 18 years old. I like to think I’m ready now,” he said.

“I haven’t driven a single-seater since 2012, but I like to think that Porsche LMP1 has hopefully prepared me well.”

As for the rest of his weekend, it’s been made more complicated by Hartley being assessed a 25-spot grid penalty, even though Hartley had done nothing to accrue the penalties.

The roundabout sequence of driver changes at Toro Rosso saw Gasly replace Kvyat, Kvyat replace Sainz, and now Hartley replace Gasly, as is outlined by NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton below.