Tony Kanaan hopes to give home fans a win

Leave a comment

Despite dealing with an injured right hand, Tony Kanaan still managed to break into the Firestone Fast Six and claim a solid fourth-place starting position for tomorrow’s Sao Paulo Indy 300.

That should increase already high anticipation amongst the home crowd going into the race. Kanaan finished third in his first-round group and then hit the top of the second round charts before earning his best start of the season thus far.

“We had a great car from the get go, but there was no way I could beat those guys that had sticker reds during the Fast Six,” said Kanaan, who is a native of the city of Salvador in the Brazilian state of Bahia. “It was a disadvantage not having the new Firestones, but you know, they got it by luck because of how their qualifying group went on.

“I’m happy. This is my home race; we have the fans cheering and the backing from my local sponsor. Starting in fourth in a street course is not bad at all and I think it’s going to be weird seeing just three cars in front of me at the start.”

According to the AP’s Tales Azzoni, Kanaan received an injection before Saturday’s qualifying and will get another before the race tomorrow. He’s also had to continue icing his injured hand every time he’s out of his No. 11 KV Racing Technology machine.

Nonetheless, Kanaan easily out-paced his fellow Brazilian racers Ana Beatriz and championship leader Helio Castroneves on Saturday. Beatriz will start 16th and Castroneves 18th after both were caught out by James Jakes’ engine fire that ended their first-round session.

Kanaan’s ability to race through the pain impressed Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver and good friend Dario Franchitti, who’s convinced that the Brazilian will be a contender.

“In the [Turn 11] hairpin using maximum lock, it’s difficult on your hands and your wrists — Tony is there with essentially one hand working properly and in a lot of pain,” the Scotsman said.

“…Give him a sniff at a win, he looks — he can see a win, he’ll be pushing very, very hard.  That was an impressive performance today, definitely.”

Watch tomorrow’s Sao Paulo Indy 300 online and on your mobile device.

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.