F1 notes: di Resta to DTM; van der Garde named Sauber reserve

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Two of the drivers from 2013 who failed to find a spot on the 2014 Formula One grid have landed in respectable areas.

Paul di Resta returns to the DTM, and with Mercedes-Benz. The Scot often punched above his weight in 57 Grands Prix over the last three years with Force India, and scored a best career result of fourth place twice (2012 Singapore Grand Prix, 2013 Bahrain Grand Prix). He resumes in the DTM after four full seasons there from 2007-’10, the latter of which he won the series championship.

“Much has changed since my last DTM race in Shanghai in 2010 with new cars, a new set of rules and a third manufacturer, but what has not changed is my enormous appetite for success,” di Resta said in a release. “Mercedes-Benz has given me a car that I can use to fight for wins and the title. However, I realize that it will not be easy.”

With Sam Bird known to be exploring his options in America – he’ll be racing in the Rolex 24 at Daytona with the Starworks Motorsport PC class team this weekend – Mercedes AMG Petronas is yet to nominate a reserve driver for 2014, and di Resta could be the pick there to keep him at least somewhat in the F1 fold.

Someone who is staying in the F1 fold, albeit now outside of a race seat after Caterham’s confirmations this morning, is Dutchman Giedo van der Garde. After his first season on the grid, van der Garde will move to Sauber where he has been nominated a test and reserve driver there.

“I consider this an important step in my career,” van der Garde said. “It is my goal to help the team with the development of the new car. But, of course, I am a racing driver, and I want to show the team and everybody else what I am capable of and that I deserve a race seat with the Sauber F1 Team in 2015. After all, my ambition remains unchanged and I am highly motivated to succeed in Formula One, especially in the long term.”

The van der Garde signing means Sergey Sirotkin, the Russian who had been rumored for a race seat and was confirmed as just a test driver, will be second on the pecking order to van der Garde if a race opportunity arises during the season. Sirotkin is also set for a full season in Formula Renault 3.5.

Sage Karam, Tony Kanaan fastest in Monday’s practice for Indy 500

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In the second-to-last practice session of the week, Sage Karam paced the 33 drivers qualified for Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 on Monday.

Karam had a field-best speed of 226.461 mph, followed by Tony Kanan (225.123 mph), Ryan Hunter-Reay (224.820), Charlie Kimball (224.582) and Alexander Rossi (224.507).

Sixth through 10th fastest were Will Power (224.445), Helio Castroneves (224.368), Marco Andretti (224.148) and rookie Zachary Claman Demelo (224.91) and Scott Dixon (223.966).

Power and Castroneves ran the most laps of all drivers at 120 and 118, respectively.

Two other Team Penske drivers struggled to get speed out of their cars. Defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden was 28th-fastest (221.982 mph) and Simon Pagenaud, who was the slowest (220.902 mph) of the 33 cars on-track.

Pole sitter Ed Carpenter was 14th-fastest with a best speed of 223.573 mph in a 100-lap effort.

Most drivers were in race trim or were testing things for Sunday’s Greatest Spectacle In Racing such as fuel mileage, chassis setup and more.

Rookie Matheus Leist missed most of the session with an apparent electrical problem that kept him to just 19 laps.

There was one incident of note during the 3 ½ hour session: IndyCar rookie Robert Wickens crashed coming out of Turn 2 during the first hour of practice.

Wickens appeared to skim the outside SAFER Barrier, went left and then violently turned hard back into the outside retaining wall.

MORE: Wickens wrecks during Indy 500 practice

The Honda-powered machine for the Canadian driver suffered heavy damage to the right side, particularly the right front tire and the right side of the front end.

There will be no further on-track activity for the Indy cars until Friday’s final practice to fine tune things for Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

We’ll have the full practice speed chart, as well as What Drivers Said, shortly. Please check back soon.

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