Hamilton using Spanish GP to judge progress

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Lewis Hamilton is looking forward to next weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, seeing the race as the perfect marker of how Mercedes has progressed so far this season.

The British driver currently lies 3rd in the drivers’ championship, having already outscored Michael Schumacher’s total for Mercedes in 2012, and he is hoping to build upon this good start when Formula One returns to Europe.

“Barcelona should be a good test as we know the circuit so well having completed most of the pre-season test programme there,” Hamilton said in a team statement.

“The weekend should be a good benchmark of the progress we have made since then.”

Mercedes started the season with rather modest aspirations, aiming to finish in the points, but they have scored two pole positions and two podiums and currently lie 4th in the constructors’ championship. Hamilton is pleased to have got to grips with the new car so quickly.

“We’ve been boosted by the results that we’ve had at the start of the season and to come away from the first four races with two third and two fifth places feels like a real achievement.”

Hamilton was also looking forward to getting back in the car after the three week break.

“It feels like a long time since Bahrain so we’re all looking forward to getting to Barcelona next weekend and starting to get into the routine of the European season.”

The team has certainly made an impressive start to the 2013 season in light of their comments during the winter break, but Hamilton’s fighting spirit means that he will not settle for anything less than a victory during his first year with Mercedes.

Power, Newgarden, Dixon fastest in first of 2 IndyCar practices today at Barber Motorsports Park

Photo: IndyCar
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Will Power was fastest in Friday’s first of two IndyCar practice sessions at Barber Motorsports Park.

Power covered the 2.3-mile permanent road course in 1:07.5987 minutes at 122.488 mph in the 45-minute practice session.

Even though he spun off the course during his session, Phoenix winner Josef Newgarden still managed to be second-fastest (121.919 mph at 1:07.9141 minutes), followed by Scott Dixon (121.296 mph/1:082627), Max Chilton (121.251 mph/1:08.2882) and Ed Jones (121.215 mph/1:09.5692).

 

Sixth through 10th were Simon Pagenaud (121.208 mph/1:08.3122), Jordan King (121.113 mph/1:083661), Graham Rahal (121.059 mph/1:08.3964), St. Petersburg winner Sebastien Bourdais (121.029 mph/1:08.4131) and rookie Zach Veach (121.014 mph/1:08.4216).

Here’s the full speed chart:

Incidents:

* Early in the session, Long Beach winner Alexander Rossi ran off the track and into the grass, striking a small sign, but was able to get back on-track. However, Rossi was only able to complete 10 laps, relegating him to 20th-fastest in the 23-car field.

* Moments later, it appeared the rear brakes locked up on Newgarden heading into Turn 5, spinning him into the gravel trap. He was able to get going and returned to the pits for service and was back on-track with less than four minutes remaining in the session.

ALSO OF NOTE:

* The second practice session of the day will begin at 3:50 p.m. ET. A third practice will take part Saturday morning at 10:50 a.m. ET, followed by qualifying beginning at 4:05 p.m. ET. The race, to be televised live Sunday on NBCSN, is slated to start at 3:30 p.m. ET.

* However, weather forecast does not look promising for Sunday’s race. As of 1 p.m. ET today, the forecast calls for 100 percent rain throughout the day.

* Dixon has had an incredible record at Barber Motorsports Park, with seven podium finishes in eight starts there. Except for one thing: he has yet to win a race there. But he does have five runner-up and two other third-place showings on the permanent road course.

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