Red Bull aero chief Prodromou to join McLaren in 2015

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McLaren have confirmed that Red Bull’s head of aerodynamics Peter Prodromou will join the team at the end of his current contract with the world champions to coincide with the return of Honda in 2015.

Prodromou has been instrumental in Red Bull’s dominance of the sport over the past four years, working with technical guru Adrian Newey at Milton Keynes. McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said in Korea that the team would be announcing some “impressive” backroom signings in the coming weeks, and Prodromou appears to be the first of these.

“We do have to remember that the contract Peter has at the moment is a Red Bull contract and I have to respect that,” McLaren’s managing director Jonathan Neale explained to journalists in Japan. “It’s for them to talk about what his terms are and what his leave dates are.

“But in terms of our position then, yes, we have recruited Peter. We are really excited about him joining the team.”

Prodromou will return to McLaren at the end of his contract in 2015, having worked for the team between 2000 and 2005 under Newey.

McLaren have endured a difficult year in 2013 thanks to problems with the MP4-28 car, but plans are slowly coming together for the Woking-based outfit to bounce back when their new partnership with Honda begins in 2015.

Rumors continue to persist suggesting that Ross Brawn could leave Mercedes to join McLaren, but he is yet to make a final decision about his future.

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

IndyCar Harvest GP practice
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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.