Rosberg: Mercedes face dilemma over car development

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Nico Rosberg believes that Mercedes face a difficult decision when choosing which path to take with the development of their car for 2013.

As we enter the second half of the season, the teams now have to decide to either continue developing their current car in order to score some big results in the remaining nine rounds but sacrifice the beginning of next season, or stop producing upgrades for the 2013 model in favor of a strong season in 2014. As Brawn proved in 2009, shifting focus early can reap great rewards, and Rosberg has admitted that he is in two minds over the decision.

“I’m in two minds,” Rosberg told German publication AMuS. “On the one hand, I find it so cool to come to a race weekend with the best car, thinking ‘I can put it on pole and win’. It’s a great feeling.

“On the other hand, half of me thinks next year is such a huge opportunity, because of all the changes. If we just keep driving what we have now, we can still get some good successes out of this car.”

Mercedes have enjoyed their most successful season to date in 2013, winning three races and arguably possessing the quickest car over one-lap, claiming 70% of the pole positions so far this year. Therefore, shifting focus too early could end all hopes of a surge for the championship and even hand P2 in the constructors’ to Ferrari and Lotus. Thankfully for Mercedes, the other ten teams will also be facing a similar dilemma.

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.