Despite team effort, Jourdain fails to get into Indy 500

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With roughly 15 minutes remaining on Bump Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the seemingly inevitable decision was made by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing to stop the desperate effort to get Michel Jourdain, Jr. into the 97th Indianapolis 500.

But while the call may have been inevitable, it was no less harder to take for Jourdain. He climbed out of his No. 17 Office Depot Mexico Honda and tried to find solace in the arms of his wife, Nora, burying his head in her shoulder.

With nine spots on the “500” grid up for grabs today and 10 drivers aiming to fill them, one of those drivers was going to go home unhappy this evening at 6 p.m. ET. And that driver was Jourdain, who never found the speed he needed to break into the field despite help from his entire team, including RLL full-time drivers James Jakes and Graham Rahal.

“We tried this morning, James’ setup,” said Jourdain. “He was the fastest of the three cars, and coming out of Turn 4, first lap, I almost spun, and I felt this car isn’t drivable. We put Graham in the car with his exact same setup and everything — [his] steering wheel is in, everything, you know. It was impossible for him to feel a difference. Just couldn’t drive it. He couldn’t go — he came in, got to 204 [miles per hour] and he said, ‘I’m not going any faster.'”

Jourdain indicated that something was structurally wrong with the car (“Something’s bent, broken, bending, loose,” he said), which was raced last month for RLL at Long Beach. He ruled out any issues with the tub itself and said that a backup chassis was never an option for him.

No matter what changes were made to his primary No. 17 Honda on Bump Day, Jourdain was still having to lift noticeably in the corners on late practice runs as he looked for any sort of feel in the cockpit.

The “500” was to be Jourdain’s only race of 2013, but now, he’ll have to watch from afar.

“My sponsors trusted me with this and [it was] a very big project,” he said. “[There’s a] lot of people coming from Mexico next week for this, so it’s hard.”

Daniel Ricciardo to decide soon about moving from Red Bull to another F1 team

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LE CASTELLET, France (AP) Daniel Ricciardo says over the next six weeks he wants to decide between staying at Red Bull or joining another Formula One team for next year.

Ricciardo said on Thursday at the French Grand Prix, “It would be nice to go on the summer break knowing what I am doing.”

F1 is working its way toward its three-week break in August with speculation mounting that Mercedes, Ferrari, and McLaren are interested in luring Ricciardo away from Red Bull for 2019.

“I will be honest, everyone is talking about Mercedes and Ferrari as potential places for me to go, and I am aware that there will be interest from other teams,” he said.

The Australian driver has won seven races in his four-plus seasons with Red Bull. He is fourth in the standings behind leader Sebastian Vettel heading into the race at the Paul Ricard Circuit near Marseille.

Ricciardo’s stock has risen in recent months after his victories in Shanghai and Monaco. His Monaco win was particularly impressive because Ricciardo had to deploy some masterful defensive driving to protect his lead after losing an estimated 25 percent of his engine power.

Ricciardo said he had not directly spoken to rivals Ferrari and Mercedes, but he hedged when asked if his manager had.

“People talk, have coffees, I will leave that one open-ended,” he said with a laugh.

Ricciardo called the decision on whether to go or stay with Red Bull the biggest choice of his career following his decision to leave his native Australia and continue his racing career in Europe over a decade ago.

“For sure the priority is to get a car to win the world title because I really believe I can,” he said. “I am slightly careful because it is easy to think the grass is greener and maybe it is, but I also have it pretty good where I am.

“People do like a change but just to make change for the sake of making a change is not enough for me. I need to find some substance behind it to jump ship.”

Red Bull announced recently it would be ending its 12-year partnership with engine-maker Renault and switching to Honda motors for next year.

Ricciardo was hesitant to endorse or criticize the change, saying he was going to “try to keep putting the pieces together if it is a good move.”

But with the question of the engine manufacturer out of the way, Ricciardo said Red Bull would likely be looking to resolve its drivers’ lineup for next year.

“I haven’t been pushed yet, but I would say that there will be some movement in the next week,” he said. “Whether that is something that gets put down on paper (or not), for sure the discussions will start to ramp up in the next few days.”