Ferrari focused on improving qualifying form

Leave a comment

Ferrari may have already claimed one win so far this season, but the team is keen on improving its qualifying form in order to challenge Red Bull and Lotus for both championships in 2013.

In an interview with Autosport, deputy chief designer Simone Resta highlighted Ferrari’s Saturday form as being the weak link in recent races. This was particularly evident in 2012, with Fernando Alonso missing out on the championship due to his poor qualifying performances, often requiring a fight through the field to make the podium.

“This year I think we have shown a reasonable race pace, and we closed the gap in qualifying, but we still need to work on that, and it is a priority for us,” Resta explained.

Mark Webber was recently quoted as saying that qualifying had lost importance due to the more aggressive Pirelli tires. However, Resta believes that a good qualifying position is still important, although this could sacrifice race pace on a Sunday.

“I think learning the tires and also how to treat them is an important factor in that, and concentrating your setup more to qualifying or more to the race is another factor.

“But I think for us, it is a priority to try and recover performance in qualifying.”

Ferrari has certainly made a big step forward with its qualifying pace since last season. So far in 2013, one of their drivers has qualified in the top three for every race, with the team locking out the second row at the last grand prix in Bahrain. However, with just four pole positions since the end of the 2008 season, the team will be hoping that Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa can lead the charge back to the front of the grid.

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

IndyCar Harvest GP practice
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.