McLaren looks for recovery after double DNF in Bahrain

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McLaren’s season has featured elements in pairs – the highs of a double podium in Melbourne and the lows of a double DNF two weeks ago in Bahrain.

Something in the middle of that, and a return to points after the two mechanical issues took out Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen last race, would be a nice tonic heading into the fourth Grand Prix of the 2014 Formula One season.

“After a disappointing race in Bahrain, I think we head to China with a bit of a point to prove – we need to get some points on the board, and get another race under our belts that demonstrates the pace that we feel this year’s car has,” Button said in the team’s advance release.

He also stressed that in the Mercedes-power unit pecking order, McLaren needs to do a better job of asserting itself.

“Bahrain showed that, the top two cars aside, the racing this year is fast, fraught and very evenly matched,” he explained. “The margins are so slim that it’ll require us to get everything right: a focused practice, problem-free qualifying sessions and a clean race to try and establish ourselves at the forefront of that chasing pack.”

Button said the track doesn’t “perfectly” suit the MP4-29 package but they’ll attempt to work through it this weekend.

Magnussen, too, is motivated to improve after some self-assessment that he didn’t extract the maximum from the car in Bahrain. He’s not raced at Shanghai, either, which continues his learning process through the opening rounds of the season.

“I came away from the last race feeling like I didn’t get the maximum from either myself or the car, so the couple of days’ testing in Bahrain, and my preparations for this race, will hopefully allow me to rediscover my comfort zone with MP4-29,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to this race – it’s a track I’ve only seen on the TV, but it looks to have a real variety of corners. The first turn looks like a real challenge, but, most interestingly, I think we’ve going to see some spectacular speeds, and a lot of overtaking along the back straight, which is one of the longest in Formula One.”

Carb Day: Tony Kanaan is fastest in final practice for Sunday’s Indy 500

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Tony Kanaan wants to put legendary driver and team owner A.J. Foyt back into Victory Lane at the Indianapolis 500.

Kanaan took a big step toward achieving that goal in Friday’s final practice for Sunday’s 102nd running of the Greatest Spectacle In Racing.

Kanaan was fastest of the 33-driver field, with a best lap around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval at 227.791 mph, more than 2 mph faster than the second-fastest driver, Kanaan’s former teammate, Scott Dixon (225.684 mph).

Foyt won a record-tying four Indy 500’s as a driver. It’s been nearly 20 years since he also won as a team owner in 1999 with Kenny Brack behind the wheel.

Marco Andretti was third-fastest (225.200 mph), followed by Sebastien Bourdais (224.815), Charlie Kimball (224.712), 2017 Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato (224.083), Will Power (223.942), Danica Patrick (223.653), Spencer Pigot (223.584) and Ed Jones (223.556).

Other notable driver speeds included:

* Pole sitter Ed Carpenter was 14th fastest (223.219 mph).

* Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champ Josef Newgarden was 15th (223.186 mph).

* Helio Castroneves, hoping to earn a record-tying fourth 500 win, was 17th (222.913 mph).

* Graham Rahal was 21st (222.526).

* Former 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay was 26th (221.916 mph), followed by rookie Robert Wickens (221.821 mph), carrying the mantle for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with James Hinchcliffe having failed to qualify for the race.

* The biggest surprise was 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi, who was 32nd fastest (221.374 mph).

We’ll have the full speed grid, as well as full driver quotes, shortly. Please check back soon.

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