F1 Primer: The teams and cars

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The F1 rules have been largely stable since 2009. The current generation of cars use 2.4-liter V8 engines which produce around 750bhp.

This is enhanced by the addition of a Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS). This is basically a hybrid engine which gives drivers an extra 80bhp for up to 6.6 seconds per lap.

Another acronym which comes up often in F1 is DRS. The Drag Reduction System was introduced in 2011 to increase overtaking. It allows a driver to lower his rear wing and increase his top speed, but only on designated parts of the circuit and only when they’re within a second of the car in front.

F1’s engine specification has been ‘frozen’ for several years. That has led teams to focus on the aerodynamics of their cars as the best way of improving performance. And the undoubted masters of that at the moment are Red Bull.

Technical director Adrian Newey has been a key part of the team’s dominance of the past three seasons. His unending quest for performance has brought Red Bull in conflict with the sport’s rule makers on several occasions.

A team with the passion and heritage of Ferrari needs no introduction. They are the only outfit who’ve participated in every season of the world championship since its inauguration in 1950.

They wield immense political clout within the sport and their impatience at going four years without any championship silverware is clearly growing.

McLaren’s status as one of the sport’s top teams is belied by the fact that they haven’t won the constructors’ championship for 15 years. Their relationship with engine supplier Mercedes, which began in 1995, appears to be in its twilight phase.

Mercedes returned to F1 as a full factory team in 2010 but have only won one race since. The hiring of Lewis Hamilton from McLaren this year is a clear signal of their intentions.

The Lotus name appears in F1 but it is no longer connected to the sports car maker. The team which was known as Renault until last year have won championships before and are dark horse contenders for success this year.

Sauber mark the 20th anniversary of their arrival in F1 this year. The independent team owned by Peter Sauber is now run by F1’s first female team principal, Monisha Kaltenborn. Fellow independents Williams have multiple championships to their name and ended an eight-year winless streak last season.

Force India has two home races per year: the Indian Grand Prix and the British Grand Prix, the latter held at Silverstone circuit outside their factory gates.

The role of Toro Rosso in F1 is as a junior team for Red Bull who use it to evaluate potential drivers of the future.

There is room for 26 cars in Formula One at present, but only 22 of the spaces are filled. Three new teams entered F1 in 2010 but one of those, HRT, collapsed during the winter. Only Caterham and Marussia remain, and they are yet to score a point in three years.

Alex Palou fastest as several go off course during IndyCar practice at IMS

IndyCar Harvest GP practice
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
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Alex Palou paced the opening practice Thursday for the IndyCar Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The Dale Coyne Racing rookie turned a 1-minute, 10.177-second lap around the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course in his No. 55 Dallara-Honda.

Jack Harvey was second, followed by Colton Herta, points leader Scott Dixon and Max Chilton.

PRACTICE CHART: Click here to see the speed rundown from Thursday’s session

FRIDAY AT IMS: Details for watching Race 1 of the Harvest GP

Qualifying for Friday’s race will be at 6:20 p.m. ET Thursday on NBC Sports Gold.

Will Power, who won the pole position for the July 4 race at the track, spun off course with just more than a minute left in the session after the left rear of his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet made slight contact with the right front of Alexander Rossi’s No. 28 Dallara-Honda.

Power was among several drivers who went off track, but there were no damaged cars during the session. Marcus Ericsson missed the final 5 minutes of the practice after being penalized for causing a red flag with a Turn 8 spin.

Arrow McLaren SP drivers Pato O’Ward and Helio Castroneves, who is driving for Oliver Askew (who is recovering from concussion-like symptoms), also veered off course as did rookie Rinus VeeKay and Santino Ferrucci.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson was in attendance at the session before racing Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. Johnson will be driving a partial schedule of road and street courses in IndyCar next season for Chip Ganassi Racing.

“Literally, the smallest of details, I can pick up on,” Johnson told NBC Sports pit reporter Kevin Lee. “It’s been really nice today just to see how a session starts and obviously to jump on the radio and listen to how the systems work and then obviously you get into the car and the setup and such. I’m at ground zero right now, a 45-year-old rookie trying to learn my way into a new sport essentially.”

Johnson told Lee his sponsorship hunt to run a Ganassi car “has gone really well. The fact that I’m here today and ingrained so deeply in the team is a great sign of where things are going. Looking forward to getting behind the wheel of a car soon and hopefully having some announcements for the world to see soon, too.”

Fans were in attendance Thursday for the first time this season at IMS, which is allowed a limited crowd of 10,000 for its races this weekend.