As speculation surrounding his future begins to heat up this weekend in Houston, Simon Pagenaud isn’t letting it affect his day job.
The driver of the No. 77 Oculus Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports Honda ended fastest on the day after the second Verizon IndyCar Series 45-minute practice session, at 1:00.1415 around the 1.7-mile M.D Anderson Cancer Center Speedway at NRG Park.
“I feel really good. This car is a pleasure to drive,” Pagenaud said post-practice. “The track has been improved quite a bit in Turn 1, which is quite pleasant. It looks pretty strong right now. We just need to keep up with the track because the car was pretty much perfect today. If we’re good tomorrow on the red Firestone tires, we should be in good shape.”
Second and third were Ryan Briscoe and Luca Filippi in the No. 8 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet and No. 16 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda, respectively. This marks Filippi’s first day in an IndyCar since he raced at Houston in October last year.
Helio Castroneves and Mikhail Aleshin rounded out the top five. Scott Dixon and Will Power, who won the two races in Houston last year, were eighth and ninth in this session. Power led the morning 45-minute practice.
This 45-minute practice session ended a few minutes early when Jack Hawksworth hit the curbing at the Turns 1 and 2 complex, with the latter curb launching the driver of the No. 98 Integrity Energee Drink BHA/BBM with Curb-Agajanian Honda airborne and then into the outside retaining wall. Hawksworth was OK but the Bryan Herta Autosport team will have a bit of work to do this evening.
Additionally, the curbing at Turn 2 is set to be ground down later today, to reduce the likelihood of liftoffs.
Aleshin (Turn 4) and Tony Kanaan (Turn 2) also had spins in the session but resumed without damage. Teams then completed standing start practice after the second practice session ended.
Here’s practice two times:
Haas Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean may be one of the sport’s most promising talents on-track, but he also has a burning passion off it: cooking.
Grosjean may have been spent a good part of this year cooking his brakes, but you’ll now be able to cook bakes instead…
F1’s resident foodie is set to release a cookbook alongside wife Marion Jolles in the coming weeks, as announced on his Facebook page.
Grosjean currently sits 13th in the F1 drivers’ championship with 18 points to his name, helping Haas to match the points total from its debut season after just 10 races in 2017.
Mercedes Formula 1 engine chief Andy Cowell has warned against underestimating the threat of Honda despite its ongoing power unit struggles, tipping the Japanese manufacturer to bounce back in the near future.
Honda returned to F1 as a manufacturer in 2015, supplying V6 turbo power units to the McLaren team, but has struggled for either performance or reliability through that period.
The struggles have led McLaren – currently sat bottom of the constructors’ championship – to consider cutting ties for 2018 given how far adrift compared to the other three engine suppliers Honda has been.
Mercedes has been the benchmark for engine performance since the change in regulation for 2014, but Cowell feels that Honda could make up ground quickly, with the removal of the token system for 2017 helping performance to converge through the field.
“I think collectively we’ve helped with convergence in Formula 1 in the opening season, performance development through the year,” Cowell said.
“But then the opportunity to do a big change with Honda coming in, we all agreed that Honda could have that same opportunity to change everything in the first year and then the request came from manufacturers in addition to Honda saying ‘please can we take this crazy token table away because it’s bad for the sport?’
“It’s bad if somebody can’t train to get better and so we agreed, yeah, take the table away because it’s better for the sport because it means that you can innovate, you can introduce whatever you like.
“I think none of us should underestimate the technical prowess of Honda and of McLaren and I think my money is on that combination coming good and coming good pretty quickly. No pressure…”
Williams is happy to “hold off” on making a decision on its Formula 1 driver line-up for 2018 as it focuses on improving its on-track displays after a tough start to the season.
Williams currently fields Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll, a mix of experience and youth, but has failed to keep up with midfield front-runner Force India through the first half of the year.
Force India sits fourth in the constructors’ championship with more than double the points of Williams, who leads a tight-knit group down to Renault in eighth place, 15 points adrift.
While Stroll looks set to continue with Williams and Massa has hinted he may look to continue through to 2018 despite initially planning to retire at the end of last season, deputy team boss Claire Williams has confirmed that no decision about next year’s line-up will come any time soon.
“There’s a lot of talk already isn’t there, about drivers across the paddock. For us, we’ve decided we’re going to hold off a bit on our driver decision,” Williams said.
“We’ve got a fight on our hands on the race track at the moment and to be distracted by those kinds of conversations isn’t something that we want to be happening at the moment.
“[Force India’s] got a nice points haul on us at the moment we need to focus on, rather than anything else.”
2016 Formula 1 world champion Nico Rosberg is considering study options at Stanford University after visiting the college earlier this week as part of his tour around California.
Rosberg sensationally announced his retirement from F1 just five days after winning his maiden world title last November, wanting to spend more time with his young family.
The German has been enjoying his retirement, recently embarking on a tour of Silicon Valley and California that saw him hold meetings with electric car giant Tesla, among other companies.
In a video posted to his Twitter account on Sunday, Rosberg spoke warmly about a visit to Stanford, revealing that he is considering some study options in the near future at the historic institution.
Rosberg was previously offered a scholarship to study engineering at Imperial College London when he was younger, only to turn it down in order to embark on a racing career. He also reportedly holds the highest ever score on Williams’ engineering aptitude test.
Should Nico sign up to a course at Stanford, we imagine he’d take things one class at a time…