Magnussen leads Day 3 in Jerez

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Don’t adjust your monitors: you’re reading this headline correctly.

Kevin Magnussen, not his father Jan, is atop a Formula One session for the first time in his career. Except in this case, it’s only day three of F1’s first official preseason test in Jerez, and there still weren’t a ton of laps turned.

Nonetheless, the 21-year-old Danish rookie put the McLaren MP4-29 on the top of the timesheets for the second straight day, after Jenson Button was quickest on Wednesday. The younger “Mags” clocked in a flier of 1:23.276, about eight tenths faster than what Button set on day two.

Fellow Mercedes engine runners Felipe Massa (Williams) and Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) were also realistically in range of the leaders, at half a second and seven tenths of a second behind, respectively.

Elsewhere Renault’s struggles continued; Jean-Eric Vergne managed 30 laps in the new Toro Rosso while former teammate Daniel Ricciardo turned in only three in the Red Bull with further technical problems.

“We worked hard yesterday to make the changes it was felt were necessary to overcome the problems we identified and we were hopeful of a more successful day today,” Red Bull’s race engineering coordinator Andy Damerum said, via Formula One’s official website.

Things were worse down Sauber’s way, where Adrian Sutil crashed at Turn 7. Sutil’s car snapped while going in a straight line following an upshift from third to fourth gear.

Marussia’s new MR03 Ferrari made its first public appearance with Max Chilton behind the wheel, but didn’t post an official lap time.

The fourth and final day of F1’s first test of the new year occurs Friday in Jerez.

1. Kevin Magnussen, McLaren-Mercedes, 1m 23.276s, 52 Laps
2. Felipe Massa, Williams-Mercedes, 1m 23.700s, 47
3. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1m 23.952s, 62 
4. Jenson Button, McLaren-Mercedes, 1m 25.030s, 40
5. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1m 25.495s, 58 
6. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India-Mercedes, 1m 26.096s, 17 
7. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso-Renault, 1m 29.915s, 30
8. Adrian Sutil, Sauber-Ferrari, 1m 30.161s, 34 
9. Robin Frijns, Caterham-Renault, No time, 10
10. Max Chilton, Marussia-Ferrari, No time, 5
11. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull-Renault, No time, 3

IndyCar 2017 driver review: Ed Carpenter

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MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. The 2017 season behind the wheel was better for Ed Carpenter than either of the last two years, but still wasn’t ideal results-wise in his six oval starts.

Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

  • 2016: 25th Place (5 Starts), Best Finish 18th, Best Start 5th, 0 Top-5, 0 Top-10, 1 Lap Led, 11.2 Avg. Start, 21.8 Avg. Finish
  • 2017: 22nd Place (6 Starts), Best Finish 7th, Best Start 2nd, 0 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 11.3 Avg. Start, 12.3 Avg. Finish

Ed Carpenter’s 2017 season was largely one of frustration, both behind the wheel and as a team owner.

While a respectable turnaround in results occurred – Carpenter finished between seventh and 12th in five of his six oval races after a nightmare season of ending 18th or worse in each of his 2016 starts – this is still not what he sets out to strive for in the races he does. Lost opportunities loomed larger than any official result he or the Ed Carpenter Racing team achieved.

Carpenter and new teammate JR Hildebrand, in for the departed Josef Newgarden, dominated preseason testing in Phoenix but Hildebrand could only muster third in the race, Carpenter a season-best seventh. Then at Indianapolis, Carpenter (second) and Hildebrand (sixth) flew the flag for Chevrolet in qualifying and practice pace, but they fell to 11th and 16th on race day owing to a front-wing change and late-race penalty for passing before a restart.

Both drivers got collected in incidents at Texas. Hildebrand qualified and finished a season-best second in Iowa but that result came only after the ECR crew rebuilt his car from a crash in practice. Then Carpenter had a practice crash in Pocono and despite a rapid rebuild, they missed the clock to qualify by mere minutes and were unable to do so. Carpenter’s spin on a slick Gateway track at the start of the race sent him over Will Power’s nose assembly in one of the scarier looking incidents of the year, although fortunately he was OK.

In a similar refrain as we often write, it’s not that Carpenter’s lost his ability to drive and he remains one of the series’ savviest and smartest people in the paddock. There have been a lot of extenuating circumstances of late, and it almost felt as though this team had “empty nest” components. Since September, Carpenter has had to secure his team’s future with a move away from its Speedway, Ind. shop, line up Spencer Pigot for a full-time drive replacing Hildebrand in the No. 21 car, find a new road/street course driver in the No. 20 car, and manage both driving and owning himself.