Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

MRTI Friday Notebook: IMS Road Course

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Indy Lights: Nico Jamin goes flag-to-flag in Race 1

Andretti Autosport’s Nico Jamin took his second win of the 2017 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season on Friday, leading every lap after securing the pole.

Jamin endured a brief challenge from teammate Colton Herta in the early laps, but quickly pulled away. Herta, meanwhile, suffered a cut tire after contact in the middle of the race, which forced him to make an unexpected pit stop and relegated him to 12th at the end.

Up front, Jamin led home Zachary Claman De Melo, who finished second after a fierce battle with Kyle Kaiser, who hung on for third.

Jamin couldn’t help but be emotional after the race. “It is amazing emotions – I don’t think it gets any better than winning at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” said the 21-year-old. “I was nervous starting on pole. You’re always happy to get the pole and the check but I saw in USF2000 here two years ago that the guys behind you can really get a good run into Turn One. I knew I had to get a good jump and I did, though I didn’t want to look in my mirror because I knew it would be a mess.”

Nico Jamin was an elated Indy Lights winner. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Despite leading every lap, Jamin explained that he was pressured throughout the race, which made his victory anything but easy. “I pushed hard in the beginning to get away from Colton, who was on his push-to-pass, but then Zach was a rocketship at the end and was catching up,” he explained. “The guys were yelling on the radio for me to push harder, but I couldn’t. But I’m very happy to have gotten the pole and the win for the DuraMAX guys, who have joined me this month.”

Race 1 results are below. Of note: Juan Piedrahita crashed in practice and Team Pelfrey, for whom he drives, was unable to repair the car in time for the race.

Pro Mazda: Franzoni outduels Martin for First Career Win

Victor Franzoni captured his first Pro Mazda win. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

The Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires returned to action after a two-month break following the opening rounds on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida. Victor Franzoni started Race 1 on the pole, but it was Anthony Martin who emerged in the lead after the green flag flew. Martin made his move around the outside entering turn 1, but he could not shake Franzoni, who quickly regrouped and mounted a challenge.

After five laps of stalking Martin, Franzoni made his move, also doing so around the outside entering turn 1, and cleared Martin for the lead. Franzoni ran the rest of the way unchallenged and won by just over five seconds. Martin, who swept the races at St. Petersburg, hung on for second, with TJ Fischer rounding out the podium.

The victory is the first of Franzoni’s Pro Mazda career. “It’s unbelievable to get my first win in Pro Mazda and my first win at Indianapolis,” said an elated Franzoni. “This track is amazing; everything here is about racing so to win here is totally different than winning anywhere else.”

Franzoni was gracious in victory and gave credit to Martin for a hard-fought and clean battle. “Anthony made a better start than me but he didn’t have anywhere to go, so he was pushing me. I’ve raced Anthony for three years now on the Mazda Road to Indy so we respect each other – and we know that if we do something bad for each other, it will be bad for the championship.”

Race 1 results are below.

USF2000: Askew Continues Dominating Run

Oliver Askew continued his winning ways on Friday by taking Race 1, his fourth win in a row in the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season.

Oliver Askew (middle), Kaylen Frederick (left), and Calvin Ming (right) on the podium in Race 1. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Askew started on pole and led every lap, the third consecutive race he has done so, and again led Kaylen Frederick to the finish. Frederick again finished an impressive second, his third second-place in a row, while Calvin Ming rounded out the podium. However, Frederick and Team Pelfrey teammate Robert Megennis were later disqualified per Rule 14.28.9, which is uprights per the USF2000 rulebook. That vaulted Ming to second and Ricky Donison to third.

A jubilant Askew was beside himself after winning at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “I tried not to think about winning here, because I didn’t want to jinx myself,” Askew quipped afterward. “The place has so much history and it’s what INDYCAR is. That’s where I want to be in the future so to win here is really cool. But this whole year hasn’t sunk in yet; I don’t feel as though it’s real.”

The race had somewhat of a messy beginning. The initial was waved off when the pole sitting Askew was not the first car to cross the start/finish line, and an accident involving Kory Enders and Kris Wright shortly after the green flag flew forced a full course caution before a green flag lap was ever completed.

However, Askew was able to quickly scoot away from Frederick when the green flag came back out. “I just had to make sure I got a good jump at the start,” Askew said of the effort. “Having a yellow start throws everyone off, but you have to regroup and figure out how to restart the race. I had the plan of where to accelerate, how to warm up the tires and where to get the jump by the time the green came out.”

Race 1 results are below. (Note: these do not reflect the penalties levied on Frederick and Megennis).

Saturday sees Race 2 for all three series, with Pro Mazda kicking things off at 8:15 a.m. ET, followed by USF2000 at 10:05 a.m., and Indy Lights at 1:15 p.m. ET.

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Haas F1 driver Romain Grosjean to launch cookbook

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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 F1 engine chief warns against underestimating Honda

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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 happy to ‘hold off’ on 2018 F1 driver decision

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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.”

Nico Rosberg visits Stanford University, considering study options

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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…