Rest day in Monaco gives the drivers a chance to regroup and meet their fans

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The Monaco Grand Prix is the only event on the Formula 1 calendar that runs over four days instead of three. Traditionally, practice always takes place on the Thursday of the weekend instead of the regular Friday, and festivities do not resume until Saturday morning with FP3.

However, that does not mean Friday is a quiet affair in Monaco. Instead, the fans descend on the track to get close to the drivers and meet their idols, whilst the teams continue to analyze their data and plot their assault for the rest of the race weekend.

In Ferrari’s case, this extra day has come as a blessing. Kimi Raikkonen endured a difficult Thursday that ended with him parking up in the garage with a gearbox failure. He should avoid a five place grid penalty should they need to change it as it is not yet Saturday, but the repair job was due to take some time.

Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat would have woken up this morning with a smile on his face after realizing a life-long dream for any racing driver yesterday: driving at Monaco. The 20-year-old had never raced around the principality’s streets before, and he made no secret of his happiness after practice.

I enjoyed driving here in Monaco finally and it was a good day overall, in which I was able to learn the track quite well,” he said. “We will now look at all the data between tonight and tomorrow to get the best out for Saturday’s qualifying and Sunday’s race.”

Last night was a rather exciting one in Monaco as Force India team owner Vijay Mallya held the annual party on his yacht, the Indian Empress, playing host to the Monegasque royal family and F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

By now it’s tradition and I am proud having started the ‘opening ceremony’ of the Monaco weekend some years ago,” Mallya said, having first held the event back in 2008. “Monaco is about glamour – and I am paying tribute to that. The rest is about having fun before the competition heats up on Saturday and Sunday!”

However, it was not the only star-studded event to be at. Championship leader Lewis Hamilton spent last night at a gala dinner in Cannes with girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger, which was also attended by the likes of Leonardo di Caprio, Heidi Klum, Lana del Rey and Rosie Huntington-Whitely, raising money for AIDS research foundation amfAR.

Today, Hamilton took time to speak to the fans and signing merchandise for them. He has also released this video thanking his fans for all of their support so far this season.

Further down the grid today, Felipe Massa caught up with former marathon runner and occasional training partner Paula Radcliffe, Daniel Ricciardo was interviewed in style on the roof of Red Bull’s floating energy station, and McLaren’s drivers also went to see the fans who came out in force.

The only on track action today came courtesy of the GP2 racers, and without wishing to give too much away, it’s an absolutely thrilling race. Be sure to watch at 11:30pm ET on NBCSN this Saturday.

They might call it rest day in Monaco, but as ever in Formula 1, there’s no rest for the wicked.

Davison, Daly, Kaiser, highlight underdogs of Indy 500 qualifying

Photo: IndyCar
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James Davison and Kyle Kaiser had uphill battles ahead of qualifying for the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Davison, in a one-off joint effort involving A.J. Foyt Racing, Jonathan Byrd’s Racing, and Belardi Auto Racing, appeared to have enough speed to make the “500” field, but a crash on “Fast Friday” put all those hopes in big jeopardy as the team needed to scramble to repair the No. 33 Jonathan Byrd’s Chevrolet in time for qualifying.

However, thanks to a herculean effort that saw the team stay at the track until the early hours of Saturday morning, the car was repaired in time for qualifying, and the team survived a chaotic final hour that saw Conor Daly, James Hinchcliffe, and Pippa Mann all vying alongside them for the final two spots in the field.

In the end, Davison survived the bumping to make the 33-car field, taking the 33rd and final spot in Saturday, and saw a dramatic increase in speed on Sunday to average 226.255 mph, putting him a very solid 19th on the grid.

An emotional James Davison walks back into Gasoline Alley after making the Indianapolis 500 field on Saturday. Photo: IndyCar

“It’s been an incredible weekend for the team after our mishap on Friday,” Davison revealed after Sunday’s qualifying.

He continued, “We had to endure a very long night, obviously it’s always depressing when you have a crashed car around here. We punched above our weight on bump day, and got ourselves in, but didn’t show our hand. We really laid it down on pole day to move from 33rd to 19th. It’s basically two days in a row the team has been rewarded for their hard work, making the show and moving up 14 positions on the grid. Unexpected results are always really nice in motorsports and we got that today with our improvement, substantially. Just very proud of the entire team and want to keep the momentum going next week.”

Conor Daly, too, had a stressful Saturday, as his No. 17 United States Air Force Honda – a joint effort with Dale Coyne Racing and Thom Burns Racing – lacked speed most of the week.

“Fast Friday” yielded some promise, as his quickest no-tow speed was 226.752 mph, good enough for 26th on the no-tow chart that day.

Saturday, however, proved a struggle. Unable to find the speed on his first two runs – he was bumped out of the field after his second attempt – he needed a third and final effort to make the field.

A four-lap average of 224.874 mph didn’t leave him much wiggle room, but it was just enough to get Daly into the field, as he took 32nd on the board. He’ll start 33rd after averaging 224.429 mph on Sunday.

Conor Daly survived a stressful qualifying weekend to make the Indy 500 field. Photo: IndyCar

“No dramas (on Sunday), but we’re fighting for miles an hour. All I can do is put my foot down and do the best we can for our incredible partners at the U.S. Air Force. It’s incredible to be here with them and at this point, I’m just thankful to be in the field. I’d like to be a lot quicker, but we’ll see what we can do in practice tomorrow to improve our race car,” Daly detailed after Day 2 of qualifying.

Kyle Kaiser and Juncos Racing faced a similar uphill battle, but theirs was down to experience. Juncos was entering its second “500” after debuting last year, and their debut wasn’t exactly a smooth one.

Spencer Pigot and Sebastian Saavedra only qualified 29th and 31st respectively, though Saavedra was able to finish on the lead lap in 15th. Pigot, meanwhile, fought major handling issues all race long and languished six laps off the lead at race’s end, finishing in 18th.

The 2018 outing didn’t appear much easier, as the team tackled it with rookie driver Kyle Kaiser, with last year’s Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires champ trying to make the “500” in his first attempt.

“Fast Friday” looked to be a bad omen, as they were 33rd on the no-tow speed charts at the end of the day.

But, Saturday qualifying saw a drastic turn in fortunes, and to the positive side. Kaiser qualified with a four-lap average of 225.934 moh, good enough for 21st at the day’s end, and putting them well clear of any bumping drama.

His Sunday run of 226.398 mph exceeded expectations even further, and he will start Sunday’s race in 17th.

Kyle Kaiser during Indy 500 qualifying. Photo: IndyCar

“What an amazing day. I am in shock right now that we are going to be starting 17th for the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500,” an elated Kaiser exclaimed after Sunday. “It was a stellar performance by the team. They gave me a super quick car for qualifying. The conditions were very challenging as the wind picked up and it got really hot, but we made it through and put in the best lap in these conditions. I am so proud of the entire Juncos Racing crew and I am thrilled to represent NFP in the race next weekend.”

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