Kobayashi hits out at new F1 cars’ lack of pace

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We’ve chronicled Renault’s reliability issues thus far in Formula One testing. We haven’t done as much chronicling of the lack of pace, by comparison, given the fact teams aren’t in an outright pace push as yet while dialing in their new technologies.

Still, with the best Renault time at Bahrain more than five seconds off the pace of Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes W05, it’s Caterham’s Kamui Kobayashi has taken the chance to speak out about it.

“We are not in race conditions here, but if we were in race conditions I think I should bring a GP2 car,” he said to reporters in Bahrain this week, via Autosport. “”The lap time is still quicker in GP2. We need to work, but in this moment if we were to race, I think it’s not Formula One.”

Kobayashi later said he’s not interested in merely finishing races, but truly wanting to close the gap to the bigger teams in front of him.

The Japanese driver was “Mr. Excitement” in his first F1 stint from 2009 through 2012, and without saying as much, he’s essentially said he’ll need miracles to make more passes happen given the team’s current pace gap to the field.

Overall times from Bahrain weren’t terribly off last year’s pole at the head of the field. But the gap from first to last is significantly greater now than it has been at any point in the last five years with the most recent iteration of chassis and V8 engines.

Kobayashi wasn’t an out-and-out speed demon when at Toyota or Sauber, but he should have the early pace edge on rookie teammate Marcus Ericsson within the Caterham team at the start of the year.

Problem is, if they’re too far back, it will be hard for either of them to achieve a result worth talking about.

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

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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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