Vettel closes out practice in Austin quickest; Hulkenberg impressive


Sebastian Vettel has continued to dominate proceedings ahead of qualifying for the United States Grand Prix by finishing quickest in the final practice session at the Circuit of the Americas.

The German driver set a fastest time of 1:36.733 to finish two-tenths ahead of teammate Mark Webber whilst Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg continued his good form to finish the session in fourth place just behind Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.

The session got underway in far less problematic fashion than first practice had on Friday morning, and Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne were quick to get out on track and set a time, being split by just 0.094 seconds early on. Adrian Sutil soon spoiled the Faentini party by going quickest ahead of Nico Rosberg and Paul di Resta. All of the drivers opted to head out on the hard tire at first in order to evaluate their pace for Q1 before switching to the softer compound later on in the session, but many remained in the pits.

When the front-runners did eventually emerge, Sebastian Vettel set about resuming normal service and went fastest ahead of Romain Grosjean and teammate Mark Webber with around forty minutes remaining. Jenson Button and Esteban Gutierrez both continued their good form to lie well within the top ten after their first runs on the hard tire, but Ferrari and Fernando Alonso struggled for pace despite topping the first practice session on Friday.

Nico Hulkenberg continued to prove his worth by jumping up into second place on the hard tire, three-tenths shy of Vettel’s time. However, the German driver was soon bumped down the standings by Webber and Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, with the Finnish driver’s pace suggesting that the team has made a step forward this weekend.

With ten minutes remaining, the drivers switched to the softer medium tire for one final assault of the circuit ahead of qualifying. Jenson Button was the first driver to post a serious time on the rubber, moving into second place with Sutil jumping up to fouth place. Nico Hulkenberg ended Vettel’s sojourn at the top by going 0.077 seconds quicker than his compatriot. Mark Webber improved yet he could only split the German drivers at the head of the field, but Hulkenberg did not relent and improved further to open up a lead of over one-tenth from Webber and Grosjean, who had now popped up into third place.

However, Vettel eventually found his feet and pulled out a quicker lap with less than one minute remaining, moving half a second ahead of Hulkenberg. Webber cut this gap to just two-tenths, but no-one could deny the four-time world champion from finishing quickest.

All eyes will be on Vettel to see if he can secure a second pole position at the Circuit of the Americas, with qualifying being broadcast live on CNBC from 1pm ET.

Winner Josef Newgarden earns $3.666 million from a record Indy 500 purse of $17 million


INDIANAPOLIS — The first Indy 500 victory for Josef Newgarden also was the richest in race history from a record 2023 purse of just more than $17 million.

The two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion, who continued his celebration Monday morning at Indianapolis Motor Speedway earned $3.666 million for winning the 107th running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

The purse and winner’s share both are the largest in the history of the Indianapolis 500.

It’s the second consecutive year that the Indy 500 purse set a record after the 2022 Indy 500 became the first to crack the $16 million mark (nearly doubling the 2021 purse that offered a purse of $8,854,565 after a crowd limited to 135,000 because of the COVID-19 pandemic).

The average payout for IndyCar drivers was $500,600 (exceeding last year’s average of $485,000).

Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Roger Penske, whose team also fields Newgarden’s No. 2 Dallara-Chevrolet, had made raising purses a priority since buying the track in 2020. But Penske but was unable to post big money purses until the race returned to full capacity grandstands last year.

The largest Indy 500 purse before this year was $14.4 million for the 2008 Indy 500 won by Scott Dixon (whose share was $2,988,065). Ericsson’s haul made him the second Indy 500 winner to top $3 million (2009 winner Helio Castroneves won $3,048,005.

Runner-up Marcus Ericsson won $1.043 million after falling short by 0.0974 seconds in the fourth-closest finish in Indy 500 history.

The 107th Indy 500 drew a crowd of at least 330,000 that was the largest since the sellout for the 100th running in 2016, and the second-largest in more than two decades, according to track officials.

“This is the greatest race in the world, and it was an especially monumental Month of May featuring packed grandstands and intense on-track action,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said in a release. “Now, we have the best end card possible for the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500: a record-breaking purse for the history books.”

Benjamin Pedersen was named the Indy 500 rookie of the year, earning a $50,000 bonus.

The race’s purse is determined through contingency and special awards from IMS and IndyCar. The awards were presented Monday night in the annual Indy 500 Victory Celebration at the JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis.

The payouts for the 107th Indy 500:

1. Josef Newgarden, $3,666,000
2. Marcus Ericsson, $1,043,000
3. Santino Ferrucci, $481,800
4. Alex Palou, $801,500
5. Alexander Rossi, $574,000
6. Scott Dixon, $582,000
7. Takuma Sato, $217,300
8. Conor Daly, $512,000
9. Colton Herta, $506,500
10. Rinus VeeKay, $556,500
11. Ryan Hunter‐Reay, $145,500
12. Callum Ilott, $495,500
13. Devlin DeFrancesco, $482,000
14. Scott McLaughlin, $485,000
15. Helio Castroneves, $481,500
16. Tony Kanaan, $105,000
17. Marco Andretti, $102,000
18. Jack Harvey, $472,000
19. Christian Lundgaard, $467,500
20. Ed Carpenter, $102,000
21. Benjamin Pedersen (R), $215,300
22. Graham Rahal, $565,500*
23. Will Power, $488,000
24. Pato O’Ward, $516,500
25. Simon Pagenaud, $465,500
26. Agustín Canapino (R), $156,300
27. Felix Rosenqvist, $278,300
28. Kyle Kirkwood, $465,500
29. David Malukas, $462,000
30. Romain Grosjean, $462,000
31. Sting Ray Robb (R), $463,000
32. RC Enerson (R), $103,000
33.  Katherine Legge, $102,000

*–Broken down between two teams, $460,000 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, $105,500 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing/Cusick Motorsports