Friday analysis: Red Bull dominant, Ferrari fifth-fastest?

Leave a comment

Ferrari may find themselves embroiled in a fight for second place in the constructors’ championship, but the Italian marque appear to be as far back as the fifth-fastest team in Abu Dhabi after the second practice session on Friday.

In terms of qualifying pace, this appears to be a fair estimate. The second session saw the teams complete their qualifying simulations using low fuel and option tires with Red Bull romping to a one-two finish. Fernando Alonso was the leading Ferrari down in eighth place whilst Felipe Massa could only finish P10. These may seem to be poor results, but it was in fact a marked improvement on eleventh (Alonso) and seventeenth (Massa) in the first session on Friday afternoon.

The second half of FP2 saw the teams complete their race simulations, which is where Ferrari usually improve and show signs of pace that can typically secure them at least one podium finish. However, in Abu Dhabi, it appears to be a very different story when we crunch the numbers.

Let’s start with Sebastian Vettel, the fastest man. He completed two substantial runs on the option tire of six and eight laps respectively, with his fastest time in these runs being 1:46.103. During both runs, his laps only left the 1:46.XXX region on one occasion, and both drops in time signalled that it was time to pit as the tires had been pushed far enough. Mark Webber was also impressive, but his times largely dotted around in the 1:47s.

Mercedes also stayed in the 1:47s for their runs, with Lewis Hamilton’s mammoth sixteen run stint producing a best time of 1:47.090 whilst Nico Rosberg dotted into the high-1:46s during the final part of his run on fourteen-lap-old tires. Similarly, Lotus’ times were largely in the 1:47s for Kimi Raikkonen, but Romain Grosjean suffered a broken brake disc and was limited to just eighteen laps.

The surprise package of practice was McLaren, though – or, more specifically, the under-fire Sergio Perez. The Mexican driver also stayed within the 1:47s for the bulk of his run, with his fastest time being 1:47.299, suggesting that McLaren have made a step forward in Abu Dhabi. Similarly, Jenson Button was consistent with his pace, although he could dip into the 1:47 region just once during his longest run of ten laps.

For Ferrari though, it was a difficult session. Fernando Alonso’s longest run with sixteen laps, but he failed to sustain a pace anything like that of Mercedes or Red Bull, averaging in the mid-to-low 1:48s. Felipe Massa’s runs were shorter and slightly quicker, but again, not a scratch on that of McLaren.

However, practice is exactly that: practice. An awful lot can change between Friday night and Saturday’s qualifying session, meaning that it would be foolish to rule Ferrari out just yet. Nevertheless, the early signs are that this is a race Red Bull will run away with and McLaren will return to form at.

IndyCar at IMS Friday: How to watch, start times, live streaming info

IndyCar Indianapolis start times
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Leave a comment

With three races remaining in the NTT IndyCar Series season, Scott Dixon has a commanding lead and history on his side entering Friday’s opener of the Harvest GP at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The five-time series champion leads defending champ Josef Newgarden by 72 points.

Since 2014, the points leader with three races left has won the championship in five of the past six years, including Dixon in ’18.

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver has led the championship standings following every round after opening 2020 with three consecutive victories. Dixon also led the points by 78 points with three races remaining when he won the title in 2008.

Dixon, Newgarden, Pato O’Ward, Colton Herta, Will Power, Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato are championship eligible.

Anyone outside 108 points of the lead after Indy will be eliminated heading into the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida.

Here is the IndyCar Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course schedule for Friday (all times are ET), including details and start times:


Indianapolis Motor Speedway TV schedule for Friday

IndyCar Harvest GP Race 1: 3:30 p.m., USA Network, NBC Sports Gold and streaming on the NBC Sports App and NBCSports.com); Leigh Diffey is the lead announcer for IndyCar on NBCSN this weekend with analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy.


IndyCar Harvest GP, Race 1 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway start times, information

COMMAND TO START ENGINES: 3:53 p.m.

GREEN FLAG: 4 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 85 laps (207.35 miles) around Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s a 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course in Indianapolis.

TIRE ALLOTMENT: Nine sets primary, five sets alternate (A 10th set of primary tires is available to any car fielding a rookie.) Teams must use one set of primary and one set of alternate tires in the race.

PUSH TO PASS: 200 seconds of total time with a maximum time of 20 seconds per activation.

FORECAST: According to Wunderground.com, it’s expected to be 57 degrees with a 0% chance of rain at the green flag.

QUALIFYING: 6:20 p.m. Thursday (NBC Sports Gold)

ENTRY LIST: Click here for the 25 drivers racing this weekend at Indianapolis