Mercedes looking to increase the gap at the front

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Mercedes may have won the opening four races of the 2014 Formula 1 season with relative ease, but team boss Toto Wolff has set his sights on increasing the gap to the chasing pack at the Spanish Grand Prix next weekend.

The opening European round of the season marks the first opportunity for the teams to introduce major upgrade packages to their cars that should provide added performance. Whilst the likes of Red Bull and Ferrari see this as a chance to cut the gap to Mercedes, the German team will instead be looking to widen this margin with new parts and upgrades.

“We are now four races into the 2014 season and hold a strong position in both championships,” Wolff said. “However, the first European round of the year always provides a prime opportunity for teams to arrive with improvements to their cars.

“Of course, we are no different to any other team in that respect and our aim must be to increase the advantage we enjoyed at the last race in China.”

Said advantage was over 25 seconds in China as Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg romped to yet another one-two finish. It was the third maximum haul of 43 points in a row, and the Silver Arrows have scored 154 of 182 possible points so far this year.

Nevertheless, Wolff is wary of the chasing pack, especially given how Red Bull has improved since the beginning of testing in January.

“We have seen already that our rivals are relentless in their efforts to close the gap,” he said. “As a team, it is up to us to rise to that challenge: to take that relentless mentality to an even greater extent than those around us. If we are to build a sustained level of success in this sport, any small advantage must be seen as a platform upon which to build a bigger advantage.

“We head to Barcelona on good form and in high spirits,” he added. “But, most importantly, we approach the next race weekend as we approached the first: in the knowledge that there is still a long season ahead and anything can happen.”

For the sake of the championship, it might be good to see a challenger rise to Mercedes’ dominance, but given the form of both Hamilton and Rosberg at the beginning of the season, it will come as little surprise if the gap grows again.

IndyCar entry lists for Harvest GP at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

IndyCar entry lists Indianapolis
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There are 25 drivers on the NTT IndyCar Series entry lists at Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course with a few new yet familiar faces for the Oct. 2-3 race weekend.

Four-time champion Sebastien Bourdais will make his season debut in the No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet (shifting Dalton Kellett to the No. 41) with AJ Foyt Racing, which he is joining full time next season. James Hinchcliffe, who had run three races with Andretti Autosport, will return in place of Zach Veach in the No. 26 Dallara-Honda. Helio Castroneves will drive Arrow McLaren SP’s No. 7 Dallara-Chevy for Oliver Askew, who is out with concussion-like symptoms.

Sage Karam, who has two IndyCar starts this year at IMS (the road course on July 4 and the Indy 500 on Aug. 23), also will return to the series in Dreyer & Reinbold’s No. 24 Dallara-Chevrolet.

HARVEST GP ENTRY LISTS: Friday l Saturday

Friday and Saturday of the Harvest GP presented by GMR will mark the second and third races this season on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. While the July 4 race on the circuit was 80 laps, Friday’s distance is 85 laps, and Saturday will be a 75-lap event.

Championship leader Scott Dixon led 26 of 80 laps to win the July 4 race at the IMS road course. With three races remaining in the series, the five-time series champion enters with a 72-point lead on Josef Newgarden.

Click here to see who’s on the IndyCar entry lists in Race 1 and in Race 2 for the Harvest GP presented by GMR at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.


START TIMES AND TV INFO FOR INDYCAR AT INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY ROAD COURSE (all times ET):

Thursday

IndyCar NTT Series practice: 2:25-3:40 p.m., NBC Sports Gold

IndyCar qualifying, Race 1: 6:20 p.m. (two groups/12 minutes apiece), NBC Sports Gold

Friday

—IndyCar Harvest Grand Prix, Race 1: 3:30 p.m. (green flag, 5 p.m.), USA Network, NBC Sports Gold

Saturday

—IndyCar qualifying: 10:20 a.m. (two groups/12 minutes apiece), NBC Sports Gold

—IndyCar Harvest Grand Prix, Race 2: 2:30 p.m (green flag, 2:31 p.m.)., NBC, NBC Sports Gold