Grosjean tops wet final practice in Australia

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Romain Grosjean managed to beat the rain clouds in Melbourne to finish on top in the final practice session for the Australian Grand Prix.

The Lotus driver set a quickest time of 1:26.929, edging out the Ferrari duo of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa in a session which saw just fifteen minutes of dry running.

The majority of the drivers opted to go out early on the medium compound tire in order to set a representative time, although Lewis Hamilton was one of the drivers who opted to stay in the pits leaving him in last place come the end of the session.

Friday pace-setter Sebastian Vettel encountered problems with his Red Bull RB9 late on in the session. With ten minutes left, the defending champion pulled over with a suspected hydraulic failure which will cause some concern for the team ahead of qualifying later today.

Mercedes’ problematic weekend continued when Nico Rosberg suffered a problem with his KERS, but the German driver still finished in P11.

Jules Bianchi was one of the surprise packages of FP3, finishing in fourteenth place just behind the Red Bull pair of Vettel and Mark Webber.

The wet running caused many of the teams to stay in the pits in order to save their tires for qualifying in case the conditions fail to improve in Melbourne. The teams at the top will be pleased with their times, although the lack of a final dry session before qualifying will have left many cursing their problems on Friday which are yet to be ironed out.

Free Practice 3 – Classification

1 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:26.929 14 laps

2 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:27.000 +0.071 7 laps

3 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:27.241 +0.312 10 laps

4 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:27.533 +0.604 9 laps

5 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:27.625 +0.696 12 laps

6 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:27.849 +0.920 19 laps

7 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:27.860 +0.931 16 laps

8 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:28.069 +1.140 15 laps

9 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1:28.253 +1.324 18 laps

10 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:28.253 +1.324 20 laps

11 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:28.486 +1.557 13 laps

12 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:29.808 +2.879 9 laps

13 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:30.073 +3.144 16 laps

14 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1:30.388 +3.459 17 laps

15 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1:30.598 +3.669 20 laps

16 Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1:30.959 +4.030 19 laps

17 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:33.236 +6.307 7 laps

18 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1:33.527 +6.598 8 laps

19 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:39.232 +12.303 13 laps

20 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1:39.779 +12.850 13 laps

21 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1:42.872 +15.943 13 laps

22 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:47.246 +20.317 9 laps

Indianapolis Motor Speedway can have 10,000 fans for IndyCar races

Indianapolis Motor Speedway fans
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
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Indianapolis Motor Speedway will have crowds for its NTT IndyCar Series race weekend next month, the first time fans are allowed at the track this year.

The track announced Friday that up to 10,000 fans will be allowed in the grandstands daily from Oct. 1-4. The IndyCar Harvest GP race doubleheader will be held on the track’s road course Oct. 2-3.

IMS has played host to several events this year without fans, including the 104th Indianapolis 500 on Aug. 23 and a NASCAR-IndyCar weekend July 4-5 that included the Brickyard 400. Plans originally were made to have fans at the Indy 500 before reversing course a few weeks ahead of the race. In a letter last month, Roger Penske vowed that fans would return for the 2021 Indy 500.

“We can’t wait to see fans come through our gates for the first time in 2020,” IMS president Doug Boles said in a release. “They’ll be greeted by a vastly improved facility, featuring significant upgrades to the spectator experience. We’re also extremely grateful to have a presenting sponsor with the expertise and resources of GMR as we look to implement our detailed and comprehensive health and safety plan.”

Fans will undergo temperature screenings upon entry and also be required to wear face coverings at all times on property. The track said each attendee will receive a mask and bottle of hand sanitizer.

The Friday, Oct. 2 race will be shown at 3:30 p.m. ET on USA, and NBC will broadcast the Saturday, Oct. 3 race at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Here’s the release from Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020 – For the first time in 2020, Indianapolis Motor Speedway will welcome fans to the Racing Capital of the World for the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR weekend. Up to 10,000 spectators can be in the grandstands each day of racing action Oct. 1-4, per approval from the Marion County Public Health Department.

Tickets are available now via IMS.com and will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

The massive facility, which holds more than 300,000 people, will provide two spectator zones with up to 5,000 fans in each. The zones will be located in Turns 1 and 4 of the oval, offering strong sightlines of the road course. Strict health and safety rules will be in place, including the following:

  • Face coverings must be worn throughout the property at all times;
  • All fans will receive temperature screenings before gate entry;
  • Grandstand seats will be marked for distancing;
  • Attendees must use pre-assigned gates and remain in their designated zones.

Global Medical Response, the world leader in compassionate, quality emergency medical and patient relocation services, will be the presenting sponsor of the penultimate weekend of INDYCAR racing this season.

“We can’t wait to see fans come through our gates for the first time in 2020,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “They’ll be greeted by a vastly improved facility, featuring significant upgrades to the spectator experience. We’re also extremely grateful to have a presenting sponsor with the expertise and resources of GMR as we look to implement our detailed and comprehensive health and safety plan.”

The plan, which includes each attendee receiving a mask and a bottle of hand sanitizer upon entering the track, was developed in consultation with state and local health officials.

This event weekend is highlighted by an NTT INDYCAR SERIES doubleheader, with races Friday, Oct. 2 and Saturday, Oct. 3. It will be the penultimate event of the series’ season as the field pursues the champion’s prestigious Astor Challenge Cup to be awarded Sunday, Oct. 25 at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The INDYCAR Harvest GP will pay tribute to a storied IMS event, the Harvest Classic in September 1916. The Harvest Classic was the only racing event held outside of May at IMS from 1911 through 1993. The event featured three races, all won by legendary driver Johnny Aitken.

Fans also will see a host of facility improvements during the event weekend, including more than 30 new LED video boards, refreshed concession stands and restrooms, and 5G wireless connectivity throughout the facility.

The first race will air at 3:30 p.m. (ET) Friday, Oct. 2 on the USA Network. NBC will broadcast the second race at 2:30 p.m. (ET) Saturday, Oct. 3, with WTHR-13 airing the action live in Central Indiana.

Also racing that weekend will be the first pairing of two major sports car series — the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli and its North American counterpart, GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS. Former Indianapolis 500 pole winner Ryan Briscoe is among the drivers in the Indianapolis 8 Hour event held Sunday, Oct. 4.

The event also will showcase drivers in SRO America’s Pirelli GT4 America, GT Sports Club America and the TC America series.

The full on-track schedule is available at IMS.com.