Andretti: Alonso “keeping Ferrari alive” in 2014

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1978 Formula 1 world champion and American racing legend Mario Andretti has praised Fernando Alonso for “keeping Ferrari alive” in 2014 as the team continues to struggle to fight at the front of the field.

The Italian marque has not won a grand prix in over a year, and this drought shows few signs of ending soon thanks to the troublesome F14 T car. Kimi Raikkonen has not enjoyed a happy return to Ferrari in 2014, scoring just 27 points from the first eleven races.

However, star driver Fernando Alonso continues to fight at the front. The Spaniard has picked up two podium finishes so far this season and came close to winning the Hungarian Grand Prix before the summer break.

In an interview with Formula1.com, Andretti was full of praise for the Spaniard and his efforts in 2014, but said that Raikkonen needs to up his game in the second half of the season.

“Obviously he’s moved away from Lotus, where I think it worked quite well for him, and gone back to Ferrari where he thought things would be peachy,” Andretti said with reference to Raikkonen. “But the fact that Ferrari struggled to begin with and that he’s ‘come in from the cold’, so to speak, means he’s having a tougher time than Fernando for sure.

“Fernando is one of those brilliant talents who will maximize everything you throw at him. He’s keeping Ferrari alive very well.

“He’s an enormous talent and he’s shown that all along. He just knows how to get 100% of everything he’s driving and that’s all you can ask.

“Kimi has a little bit of work to do I think.”

Until Ferrari does produce a car that could take Alonso to a third world championship, speculation about his future will continue to circulate. Currently, he is being linked with a move to McLaren for either 2015 or 2016, leaving the Spaniard with much to consider ahead of F1’s return at Spa-Francorchamps next weekend.

Josef Newgarden wins pole for Grand Prix of Alabama

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With time running off the clock, Josef Newgarden lapped Barber Motorsports Park with a speed of 122.773 mph to win his third career pole and first on this track in the Grand Prix of Alabama.

Newgarden was .0128 seconds faster than teammate Scott Dixon in second.

Newgarden has two previous wins at Barber. He won last year’s edition of this race after starting seventh and in 2015 from fifth.

“I didn’t know if that was going to be enough,” Newgarden said after winning the pole.

“Team Chevy has done a good job,” Newgarden said. “They’ve really given us good power this weekend – good driveability. We’re going to need some fuel mileage tomorrow, which I think we’ll have. But it’s going to get mixed up with the rain.”

Dixon’s lap of 122.750 mph was not quite enough.

“I’m sure you could pick out a number of different things on a lap when it’s that close,” Power said about what made the slight difference between him and Newgarden. “A little mistake out of 9; a little lift here or there.”

Sebastien Bourdais (122.605 mph) qualified third, with Ryan Hunter-Reay (122.159) and James Hinchliffe (121.859) rounding out the top five.

Scott Dixon was the last driver in the top six.

Fast 12

Newgarden topped this chart with a speed of 123.475 mph.

He brought Power, James Hinchcliffe, Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Sebastien Bourdais along with him to the Fast 6.

Marco Andretti (122.480), Alexander Rossi (122.216), Simon Pagenaud (122.050), Robert Wickens (122.042), Zach Veach (121.784) and Ed Jones (120.984) failed to advance.

Round 1, Group 1

Newgarden posted the fastest single lap in round one, group one of qualification for the Grand Prix of Alabama with a speed of 122.550 mph.

Hunter-Reay, Hinchcliffe, Wickens, and Andretti also advance to the fast 12.

Taking the final slot was Jones with a speed of 119.835 mph after an off-course excursion in final practice.

This was Andretti’s first advancement to the fast 12 for the first time since 2014.

Round 1, Group 2

Power had the fastest lap of 121.570 mph.

Bourdais, Veach (who is battling food poisoning-like symptoms), Rossi, and Pagenaud grabbed positions 2-4.

Scott Dixon had an uncharacteristically slow lap of 121.006, but managed to advance to the fast 12 when the session was red-flagged for an incident involving Tony Kanaan.

With three minutes remaining, Kanaan spun into the tire barriers while leaving pit road. Since he brought out the red flag, he lost his qualification time of 119.996 mph.

Takuma Sato had slipped off-course midway through the session and posted only the Ninth-fastest speed of 120.789 mph.