Sebastian Vettel has started the Indian Grand Prix weekend as he means to go on by finishing fastest during the first free practice session on Friday as the German driver looks to secure his fourth world title at Buddh International Circuit this weekend.
Vettel posted a fastest time of 1:26.683 to finish just under two-tenths of a second ahead of Mark Webber, who is looking to de-throne his Red Bull teammate this weekend and put to an end his dominant run of form at the circuit. Given his pace during the first practice session, the Australian driver certainly looks well-placed to challenge Vettel, who only needs a top five finish to secure the title on Sunday.
Mercedes appear to have returned to form in India judging by the times in FP1 as Nico Rosberg finished an excellent third with Lewis Hamilton not toofar back in fifth place. Romain Grosjean continued his good showings of late, splitting the Silver Arrows in fourth place.
One team looking particularly resurgent on Friday morning was McLaren. Following a difficult season, the team will be keen on sustaining the pace to finish sixth and seventh across the course of the weekend, with Jenson Button finishing three-tenths up on teammate Sergio Perez. They led Felipe Massa in eighth and in-form Nico Hulkenberg in ninth place, whilst Williams’ Valtteri Bottas completed the top ten.
For Vettel’s closest (albeit rather distant) challengers in the drivers’ championship, it was a difficult session. Fernando Alonso’s car was put up on its stands with twenty minutes to go due to a gearbox failure, meaning that he could only finish P11, whilst Kimi Raikkonen languished down in a disappointing seventeenth place.
Although the times posted in free practice are rarely representative of the results across the course of the rest of the weekend, Vettel and Red Bull will be pleased to have kicked off their title-winning weekend in the best possible fashion.
Team Penske and DXC Technology will renew their partnership for the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season. DXC joined Penske in 2017, serving as a primary sponsor for six races on Simon Pagenaud’s No. 1 Team Penske Chevrolet.
“Team Penske is excited to grow the partnership with DXC Technology for 2018,” said team owner Roger Penske via a release. “This is a technology-dependent sport and we were able to integrate DXC into our INDYCAR program this season and we will be ready to take our performance, and hopefully our results, to the next level with them in 2018.”
Pagenaud echoed Penske’s sentiments, adding that team and sponsor share a common philosophy that drives them forward. ““I enjoyed working with DXC Technology and representing their brand this past season. DXC Technology shares a similar philosophy with us at Team Penske, which is to strive for excellence. We are very proud to work together relentlessly toward further limits in our respective industries. We were excited to get a win with them in Sonoma and everyone at Team Penske wants to build on that as we welcome them back for 2018.”
DXC president, chairman, and CEO Mike Lawrie also highlighted Penske’s reputation as a point of interest to continue their partnership.
“Our partnership with Team Penske provides a great opportunity for DXC Technology,” said Lawrie. “Performance and reputation make Team Penske the type of organization with which we want to align. Like us, they strive for excellence in everything they do and work diligently to provide value for both sides of the relationship.”
The DXC partnership extension is one of several Team Penske has announced in recent weeks, which are as follows on the IndyCar program:
REV Group, a leading manufacturer of specialty vehicle brands serving the commercial, fire and emergency and recreational markets, will continue as a full-season associate sponsor on the No. 1 of Josef Newgarden and the No. 3 of Helio Castroneves during the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500 during the month of May.
Fitzgerald Glider Kits, North America’s leading truck glider kit assembler, will also continue as an associate sponsor with a presence on Newgarden’s No. 1 Chevrolet throughout next season.
Miller Lite, Discount Tire, Alliance Truck Parts, Wurth Group and Auto Club of Southern California and AAA have extended with Team Penske’s NASCAR programs.