Ricciardo: Returning to racing harder than expected

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Daniel Ricciardo has admitted that getting back behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car was harder than he expected following Jules Bianchi’s horrific accident at the Japanese Grand Prix last weekend.

Bianchi crashed into a recovery vehicle in the closing stages of the race at Suzuka, and remains in a critical but stable condition in hospital having sustained severe head injuries. The entire F1 community continues to send its love to Bianchi and his family, and the grid is racing with messages of support on the cars and helmets this weekend.

Speaking after practice in Russia today, Ricciardo admitted that getting back to work wasn’t as easy as he expected it to be following the events of last weekend.

“After what happened in Japan, you try and do the best you car,” Ricciardo said. “I would be lying if I said other things weren’t on my mind, but you do what you can to make sure you’re 100% committed to driving and that’s the best way for our job and our headspace.

“It’s the best way, but it was tricky and not as easy as I expected.”

Ricciardo’s thoughts were echoed by his Red Bull teammate, Sebastian Vettel, who said he found racing just days after the accident very difficult.

“Does getting back in the car help us after what’s happened? It does and it doesn’t,” he said. “It helps to get your head elsewhere and focus on the day job – looking after the best possible set up and comparing the tires and learning the new track, it keeps you occupied.

“But on the other hand it’s only been a couple of days, so it’s quite fresh and difficult.”

Red Bull struggled during practice on Friday as neither Vettel nor Ricciardo bothered the front-runners in Sochi, and its problems only grew when Ricciardo pulled over at the side of the track with an engine issue.

However, the Australian driver confirmed that this unit was not going to be used later in the weekend, meaning that he will avoid a grid penalty.

“It was our last Friday with that engine, so it’s not a worry that she turned off at the end there,” he said. “We tried a few settings and we’re not so fast here, the straights are long and we’re suffering a bit.”

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