Former Indianapolis 500 and Formula One champion Jacques Villeneuve got re-acquainted with an old friend today.
The 43-year-old French-Canadian, who won the 1995 edition of The Greatest Spectacle in Racing, turned in 83 laps at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway today as part of a refresher test for his ‘500’ return next month with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
Villeneuve topped out with a lap of 217.742 miles per hour in the No. 5 Dollar General Honda, and he admitted today that it took a bit of time for him to get truly sorted in the cockpit.
“It took a while to get there,” said Villeneuve, who is now cleared to take part in ‘500’ practice starting May 11. “The first few laps were surprising because it felt like I was going fast and I looked and it was 180 [mph]. I thought, ‘There’s still a long way to go,’ and then 190.
“And [after] another 10 laps, I started getting in the rhythm and once you start going flat all around, it becomes easy. I think your brain [and] your vision just needs to get used to driving at speed.”
Villeneuve added that with a stiff 25 mph wind blowing around the Speedway, there was no point to trim out his car early on. But they did manage to focus on the car’s set-up as the day progressed.
Should he qualify for the “500,” he’ll tie a record for the biggest gap between starts in the world’s greatest race. Two drivers, Cy Marshall and Roland Free, currently hold the record for their starts between 1930 and 1947.
As part of his refresher test, Villeneuve had to run 30 laps that make up the second and third phases of the race’s Rookie Orientation Program. Phase 2 of ROP involves 15 laps between 205-210 mph, and Phase 3 requires 15 laps at 210+ mph.
We’ve written a fair bit on MotorSportsTalk about the efforts Pippa Mann has done in working with the Susan G. Komen Foundation for breast cancer awareness. Susan G. Komen has supported Mann’s last two runs at the Indianapolis 500, when she’s driven the No. 63 Honda for Dale Coyne Racing.
This being National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the awareness hit a new level with Mann working alongside breast cancer survivors to paint the start/finish line at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s iconic Yard of Bricks pink for the day.
IMS president Doug Boles also joined in the opportunity.
View a selection of photos and social posts below. More is linked here, via IndyCar.com.
For the second year in a row, Mercedes is poised to wrap up the Formula 1 constructors’ championship in Sochi at this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix.
Mercedes won its first F1 teams’ title in Russia last year, having returned to the sport as a works constructor in 2010. When it last enjoyed such status in the 1950s, there was no championship for the teams.
Just as it did in 2014, Mercedes has dominated proceedings in F1 this season, winning all but three races and sweeping to eight one-two finishes to leave drivers Lewis Hamilton (pictured) and Nico Rosberg battling for the drivers’ title for the second straight year.
Now, Mercedes seeks the knock-out blow in the constructors’ title race by officially wrapping it up in Sochi this weekend.
To do so, the team must simply outscore rivals Ferrari by three points this weekend. The lead currently stands at 169 points, with 215 still on offer. After Sochi, there will be 172 remaining.
“We return to Russia with positive memories from last season, when the team sealed the first constructors’ title for Mercedes-Benz with a one-two finish,” team boss Toto Wolff said.
“A repeat performance in Sochi would be fantastic and this is absolutely the target – but we are under no illusions that it will come easy. The job is not done yet.”
The tire allocation for this weekend’s race could pose problems to Mercedes just as it did in Singapore, potentially allowing Ferrari to spoil the party and delay the victory celebrations at Brackley.
However, if the form book is to be trusted, Sochi could be playing host to another Mercedes party on Sunday night with a second world title in the bag for the Silver Arrows.