Hamilton: Friday a “work in progress” for Mercedes

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Lewis Hamilton has called his Friday practice programme in Singapore a “work in progress” despite finishing quickest in the second session at Marina Bay.

The British driver finished some 1.5 seconds clear of teammate and championship rival Nico Rosberg in FP2 on Friday evening, but explained to the media that he was uncomfortable with the changes made to his car between the two sessions.

“Today was a work in progress,” Hamilton said. “We made some changes between P1 and P2 and, whether it was those changes or the track itself, the balance didn’t feel right.

“It felt like we lost a bit of performance but we’ll look into the details and see what it was tonight. The long run was okay – I had a bit of traffic which wasn’t ideal, as when you back off to rebuild the gap the tires come back to you a bit which may not give an accurate picture of exactly how long they will last.”

Hamilton stressed the importance of starting the race on pole position, given that four of the six races held at Marina Bay have been won from P1 on the grid.

“Pole here has always been very important,” he said. “The right side of the grid, for example, always seems to get the better starts. Being up at the front will be crucial and that’s obviously my target for qualifying tomorrow.

“Nico looks very quick, as do the Ferraris and the Red Bulls, but I’m feeling good this weekend and I’m focused on the job. ”

Rosberg could only finish the second session down in 13th place, but he was unable to post a quick lap time on the super-soft tire following a red flag period. For the time being though, the advantage most certainly lies with Hamilton, and the Briton will be gunning to secure his sixth pole position of the season in Singapore tomorrow.

Alex Palou fastest as several go off course during IndyCar practice at IMS

IndyCar Harvest GP practice
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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.