Changes made to Friday’s IndyCar schedule at Iowa; Hinchcliffe fastest in Practice 1 (UPDATED)


UPDATE (1:05 p.m. ET): INDYCAR has announced a schedule change for today as weather affects both them and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Iowa Speedway.

Practice 2 and qualifying for Sunday’s Iowa Corn Indy 300 have effectively flip-flopped. Practice 2 will now take place at 2:45 p.m. ET, and qualifying will go off at 7 p.m. ET.

The original schedule had qualifying slated for 3 p.m. ET and Practice 2 for 7 p.m. ET.

This morning’s first practice session was cut short by rain after just 15 minutes of running at the 7/8-mile bullring.

With about one hour to go, the yellow came out for track conditions. While drivers initially remained strapped into the car, the rain picked up in intensity and with lightning also in the area, IndyCar chose to call the session early.

This weekend’s forecast has rain figuring heavily with a 70 percent chance of precipitation today and a 60 percent chance tomorrow. The race is slated to take the green flag Saturday night at 8:50 p.m. ET (coverage starts at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra).

“As always, we’re going to wait and see what the weather does but if you look at the forecast, it looks like [the rain] going to drive in until almost Sunday,” INDYCAR president of competition Derrick Walker said to IndyCar Radio.

“I hate to say that, but we’ll try to get the [backup] plans out there and let the fans know as soon as possible.”

Andretti Autosport’s James Hinchcliffe, the defending champion at Iowa Speedway, was fastest in this morning’s abbreviated session with a lap of 183.647 miles per hour.

Two more Andretti drivers – rookie Carlos Munoz and former Iowa winner Marco Andretti – also posted laps within the Top 5. Munoz was third-quickest (183.105 mph) and Andretti was fifth-quickest (182.255 mph).

Occupying P2 and P4 were a pair of Chip Ganassi Racing drivers. Kanaan was second with a lap of 183.562 mph and Charlie Kimball was fourth after a lap of 182.536 mph.

Formula E: Team Aguri confirms da Costa for second season

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Antonio Felix da Costa has been confirmed for a second season with Team Aguri for the 2015-2016 FIA Formula E Championship, which begins later this month in Beijing.

He won once this past year at Buenos Aires and finished eighth in the points despite missing both the season opener and season finale due to clashes with his DTM schedule.

Said the 24-year-old Portuguese driver, “I am really happy to continue with Team Aguri and Formula E for season two. This championship is earning its respect in the world of motorsport and I am honoured to be involved. Regarding the season, I am really looking forward to getting started.”

Team Aguri team principal Mark Preston added, “It is a great pleasure to have Antonio continuing with the team for season two of Formula E. Antonio brought us our maiden win in Buenos Aires and helped to develop the team from scratch, he will continue to build on that success for season two and beyond.”

The team that bares the name of ex-Formula 1 driver and team owner Aguri Suzuki has not yet confirmed its second driver, which is the last outstanding seat to be filled on the Formula E grid.

Amlin, which had partnered with Aguri last year, is now present with the Andretti Formula E team and its drivers, Robin Frijns and Simona de Silvestro.

Hulkenberg leads shorter than normal FP1 in Russia

Nico Hulkenberg
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Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg posted a 1:44.355 lap of the of the Sochi Autodrom to lead a fairly abnormal, and shorter than usual, first free practice for the Russian Grand Prix.

Hulkenberg posted the time to conclude the usual 90-minute session, to pip Nico Rosberg at 1:44.407 on his final lap. The usual 90-minute session was shortened due to a track delay for cleanup of diesel fuel on course.

Sebastian Vettel, Sergio Perez and Daniel Ricciardo completed the top five.

While the clock started on time for the full 90-minute session, track activity was halted for the opening 30 minutes to clean up diesel spillage on the track at Turn 8.

It left teams and drivers with just a 60-minute first free practice to tackle the Sochi Autodrom, but did not push the session later or affect the timetable for the rest of the day. However, with a damp if not entirely wet track, it made things difficult in FP1.

The delay also meant that teams weren’t able to use an extra set of Pirellis handed out at the start of FP1. Supersofts can be used for the first time in FP2.

During the delay, it did offer a chance for sarcasm, and Manor seized the opportunity following a comment from McLaren Honda’s Fernando Alonso noting that even with Mercedes engines next year, Manor wouldn’t move ahead of them.

NBC’s Will Buxton explained the track surface dilemma drivers would face in this session.

With just under one hour to go in the session, Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson was the first to head out on course, leading several others. Ericsson made the first laps of the weekend at the track where he made his final start for Caterham a year ago.

Both Williams drivers went on course on Pirelli’s wet weather tires for their installation laps. Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg tried the intermediates, and Alonso was first on course in slicks.

No official times were registered until there were less than 40 minutes remaining in the session, with Alonso registering a 2:00.736 time, while putting down a bevy of sparks. He quickly lowered the mark to 1:56.327, and 1:53.854 after that. Ericsson was next in at a 1:58.926, although dropped into the 1:54 range not long after.

Alonso’s teammate Jenson Button clocked in at 1:50.920 with just under 20 minutes remaining and for the first time this year, we could say we had a McLaren Honda 1-2 on track, albeit under abnormal circumstances.

The trsck got busy in the final 15 minutes, with Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen posting a 1:50.870 to lead before Alonso clocked in a 1:49.240.

A 1:47.959 from Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, then a 1:45.987 from Hulkenberg followed in the final 10 minutes as times firmly began to drop. Vettel got down to a 1:45.491 shortly thereafter, and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton came up two tenths shy of the mark at a 1:45.691.

Ericsson reported a power cut near the end of the session down at Sauber but otherwise there were no issues through the field, other than a handful of spins, including one from Hamilton on his final flier at the second-to-last corner.

FP2 begins from 7 a.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra.