Mercedes board understand team’s struggles

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Mercedes F1 team executive director Toto Wolff says the company’s board understands the difficulties it has experienced this year.

The team is under pressure to perform following the ousting of former vice-president of motorsport Norbert Haug last year. Daimler Group CEO Dieter Zetsche attended last weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix where his cars locked out the front row of the grid but finished sixth and twelfth in the race.

“Having them at the races is not only a very good motivation for the team, but it is good that they see there is huge complexity in the problem,” Wolff told Autosport.

“When you watch things on television, you always think you can do better. It’s like being at a football stadium as a manager – it is always easier when you are far away.”

Wolff added Mercedes recognize the team “are reacting” to the problems they’ve experienced in the campaign so far.

Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton have qualified well in the opening races but have struggled to make their tyres last. With the exception of Malaysia their drivers have finished lower than they qualified in every race so far this year:

Race Nico Rosberg Lewis Hamilton
Start Finish Start Finish
Australia 6 DNF 3 5
Malaysia 6 4 4 3
China 4 DNF 1 3
Bahrain 1 9 9* 5
Spain 1 6 2 12

*Relegated five places on the grid due to a gearbox change penalty.

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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