IndyCar: Filippi top-five, Rahal pleased after Houston Friday

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The one returning driver to the Verizon IndyCar Series this weekend, Italian Luca Filippi, ended fourth overall and third in second practice in his first day in an IndyCar since Houston last fall.

“It was a great day. I was obvi­ously very moti­vated but to finish in the top three (in the second prac­tice) is amazing,” he said after the session. “We have to keep our feet on the ground and work harder because it’s going to be a long weekend with two races but we have the oppor­tu­nity to do well obvi­ously. So we just have to do a clean job.

“At the moment I feel good with the car,” he added. “There are some things we can still improve to suit my driving style but my confi­dence is good and I feel very thankful to the team, to Bobby and every­body who is working with me to make this happen.”

Meanwhile Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing teammate Graham Rahal was within 0.3 of Filippi, albeit 10 spots lower on the combined practice charts of 14th. Considering he didn’t get a run on new tires in the No. 15 National Guard RLL Honda, he’s pleased with where he is.

“I think the National Guard car is very compet­i­tive and I think there is more time in it,” he admitted. “We didn’t get a run on new tires so we don’t really know its poten­tial but I think it’s prob­ably a top-five car at this point. I just have to keep working on myself and find a bit more speed. I think we’re learning; we’ve just got to keep going forward. I think we will have a pretty compet­i­tive car tomorrow.”

Rahal also praised the job done by event organizer Mike Lanigan for resurfacing of the front straight, which while still bumpy, was an improvement on last year’s circuit.

‘No desire’ for Lewis Hamilton to race in Indianapolis 500

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Lewis Hamilton has ruled out a future appearance in the Indianapolis 500, saying he has “no real plans” to do any serious racing once his time in Formula 1 is over.

Former teammate and current McLaren driver Fernando Alonso took part in the 101st running of the Indy 500 in May, qualifying fifth and running high up the order before retiring late on with an engine issue.

The F1-to-IndyCar crossover proved to be one of the biggest motorsport stories of the year, and has stirred the imagination of other drivers to make a similar step into other events in the future, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans which is known to be on Alonso’s radar as well as that of Haas racer Romain Grosjean.

Three-time F1 world champion Hamilton admired 2017 Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato’s victory ring when on the podium at the Japanese Grand Prix earlier this month, trying it on and joking it may spur him to enter the race to try and win the jewelry.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, Hamilton stressed he made the comment in jest, saying he holds not interest in entering the ‘500.

“Honestly it hasn’t inspired me to do the Indy 500,” Hamilton said.

“I’ve always respected it and appreciated it. I got to watch part of it when Fernando did it which I thought was super exciting. I love the idea of drivers being able to do more than one series.

“Just the other day I got to drive an F1 car on an oval circuit which was interesting. I have a huge amount of respect for those drivers as it is quite scary approaching those banks at the speeds that they do.

“I personally don’t have a desire to drive it. Maybe one day I will go out and have some fun.

“I have a lot of opportunities to do those kinds of things, but no real plans to do anything serious.”

Hamilton has previously said he would like to try a NASCAR race for fun one day, but has made clear his plan after his F1 career is over is to distance himself from racing in order to pursue other interests.