F1 teams would need six months’ notice for third cars

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McLaren racing director Eric Boullier believes that Formula 1 teams would need six months’ notice to get a third car on the grid.

Following comments by F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone and former Williams chairman Adam Parr, speculation has been rife that the sport could lose three of its teams for 2015, requiring the front-runners to run a third car to make up the numbers.

Although none of the teams are actively pursuing such drastic action, Boullier believes that it would take six months to get everything in place.

From today’s date, that takes us to beyond the start of the 2015 curtain-raiser in Australia.

“I think the driver is the easiest to get on board,” Boullier said. “The chassis and third car logistics and people around, we would need at least six months’ notice. This is a debate which has the wrong timing, because we have to wait. If there is a need to run three cars then we will see.

“We can question many things about revenue, but I think if we are called and asked to help F1 by running three cars then we have to.”

Caterham, Marussia, Sauber and Lotus are all thought to be at risk of folding in the next few months following financial difficulties over the past couple of years.

There is a good case for arguing that the problems have been caused by the refusal of the bigger teams to work with a cost cap or review the share of prize money. Those at the top of the sport may argue why they should take a hit to help the struggling teams, and many would prefer to run a third car than help the smaller outfits.

Just as F1’s driver market is subject to silly season, the future of many of the teams will be a big talking point until they line up on the grid in Melbourne next March.

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.

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 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.