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Dixon, Newgarden, Power quickest in Saturday’s IndyCar practice at St. Pete

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Scott Dixon shot to the top of the speed chart late during Saturday’s IndyCar lone practice session for Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Dixon covered the 1.88-mile track layout alongside Tampa Bay with a time of 1:00.7571, not far off from Will Power’s track record of 1:00.6580.

Defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden was second quickest (1:00.8654), followed by Power (1:00.8718).

Fourth through 10th were rookie Jordan King (1:01.0321), followed by another rookie, Matheus Leist (1:01.0327), 2016 series camp Simon Pagenaud (1:01.0654), Spencer Pigot (1:01.0940), 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi (1:01.1132), 2017 Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato (1:01.1501) and Tony Kanaan (1:01.3205).

11th through 20th were: Marco Andretti (1:01.3532), Ryan Hunter-Reay ((1:01.3548), James Hinchcliffe (1:01.3592), Zach Veach (1:01.3678), defending race winner Sebastien Bourdais (1:01.4053), rookie Robert Wickens (1:01.4644), Gabby Chaves (1:01.5125), Ed Jones (1:01.5337), Graham Rahal (1:01.6708) and Jack Harvey (1:01.7094).

Lastly, 21st through 24th were Max Chilton (1:01.8545), Charlie Kimball (1:01.9193), rookie Zachary Claman De Melo (101.9393) and rookie Rene Binder (1:02.9615) continued to have issues finding speed.

Among incidents in Saturday’s session:

* With about 28:30 left in the session, rookie Matheus Leist spun in Turn 4, bringing out a brief red flag situation.

That particular turn caused nearly a half-dozen drivers problems in Friday’s two practice sessions.

Interestingly, no drivers have hit the wall in Turn 4. They’ve just gone for a ride, spin and then continued on after getting restarted.

* With about 22:45 left, Ed Jones went into the Turn 1 runoff area after locking up his brakes.

* Shortly after Jones’ issue, Graham Rahal almost lost control, but collected it up and kept it off the wall.

* With about 18 minutes left, rookie Zachary Claman De Melo spun into the Turn 4 runoff area.

* With just over 13 minutes to go in the practice session, Turn 4 bit yet another driver, as Alexander Rossi added his name to the roster of drivers who spun into Turn 4’s runoff area.

* Jordan King had looked strong, running consistently in the top 5, but with just over one minute to go in the session, plowed into a tire wall exiting Turn 12. The car suffered minor damage and King was uninjured.

Conditions were significantly different than Friday’s two practice sessions. Friday was near-perfect conditions with sun shining throughout the day and temperatures in the mid-70s.

Saturday morning, however, the temperature was 66 degrees at the time practice began, with a heavy cloud cover and no rain.

Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying takes place later this afternoon at 2:30 p.m. ET.

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Mercedes: F1 teams need to work together to avoid split

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said Friday that Formula One teams have a responsibility to try to overcome their differences over the future of the sport in the face of a threat by Ferrari to quit because of a number of proposed changes.

Bernie Ecclestone, who ran F1 for 40 years before being replaced by new owners Liberty Media last year, has raised the possibility that Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne could walk away from F1 and form a breakaway series over Liberty’s future vision for the sport.

Ferrari is unhappy with Liberty’s proposal to simplify engines and redistribute prize money among F1 teams after the current contract with teams expires at the end of 2020.

Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene would not comment on the specifics of Marchionne’s previous comments at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Friday, but said: “My only suggestion, please take him seriously.”

Wolff is also taking the possibility of Ferrari walking away seriously. He told Britain’s Press Association before the Australian GP that he agreed with Marchionne’s concerns and that Formula One can’t afford to alienate Ferrari or lose the team.

“Don’t mess with Sergio Marchionne,” he said. “Formula One needs Ferrari much more than Ferrari needs Formula One.”

Wolff was more diplomatic on Friday, saying he hopes all sides could come together for the good of the sport.

“I think this as much a battle on track as much as it is a fight off track for an advantage,” he said. “It is clear the current governance and how the rules are being made is not very functional. There’s too much different opinions and agendas on the table and we need to sort it for 2021 for the best interest of the sport.”

Red Bull boss Christian Horner agreed there are too many competing agendas, suggesting that the FIA-Formula One’s governing body-and Liberty Media come together to decide on a set of regulations and financial framework for the next contract and the teams can then decide if they want to accept it or not.

“Trying to get a consensus between teams that have varying objectives, different set-ups, is going to be impossible,” he said. “It’s history repeating itself. It happens every five or six years, every time the Concorde Agreement comes up for renewal.”

Tempers also flared during Friday’s media conference over another issue of contention between the teams – Ferrari’s recent hiring of FIA’s ex-safety director, Laurent Mekies.

Horner believes Ferrari broke an agreement among teams at a recent meeting to institute a 12-month waiting period for any former employee of FIA or FOM (Formula One Management) to be able to start working for one of F1’s teams. The concern is that former FIA staff who go to work for a specific team could share secrets from other teams.

“Certain teams were pushing for that period to be three years, but in the end it was agreed upon being 12 months,” he said. “It almost makes those meetings pointless if we can’t agree on something and action it.”

Arrivabene defended Ferrari’s move, saying Mekies would not join its team until after a six-month “gardening leave” period.

“There is nothing wrong with that because we were absolutely respecting the local law, the Swiss local law where Laurent was hired,” he said.