Ferrari’s Allison: ‘Slow’ F14T cars will be much faster by season opener in Australia

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After numerous preseason reports have Formula 1 drivers quite concerned that their new F14T cars are too slow due to new rules and also  based upon preseason testing, Ferrari technical director James Allison has adopted a wait-and-see attitude.

In other words, Allison is telling drivers and F1 fans that wait and you’ll then see the cars get significantly faster just in time for the start of the new season next month in Australia.

The key, Allison says in a story on AutoSport.com, is teams figuring out how to maximize downforce on their sleek new racers. Once they do that, speeds could jump quite a bit – and a number of teams are well on their way to solving the downforce puzzle.

“Just look at the size of the rear wings – they are more or less Canada-type rear wings,” said Allison. “That is roughly where the downforce of the [2014] car is. There is also not the blowing of the floor either.

“But new rules offer new opportunities, so the rate of finding downforce is quite steep. You never know when it is going to slacken off, but it is showing no signs of that at the moment.”

Because of the changes F1 officials have implemented this season, teams have focused more so on performance and reliability at the outset. But now that most have solved that dilemma, mastering downforce is where speed will greatly pick up.

Driver Jenson Button agrees with Allison.

“When we go to the first race everyone is going to be much faster,” he said. “And by the end of the year we might not be that far off (from all-time top F1 speed marks), a couple of seconds.”

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.