St. Pete race ticket renewals now available; track time one to watch

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While it won’t be the official season opener for the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2015, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg does serve as the kickoff to the North American campaign and the debut of aero kits for IndyCar next year.

Fans interested in renewing their tickets for next year to the Green Savoree Promotions event can now do so, via the link on the race website homepage.

This was perhaps glossed over in the midst of the rule changes announcement INDYCAR made a little more than a week ago, but St. Petersburg has one day listed by INDYCAR as an on-track Promoter Day – Friday, March 27.

The timing of that date is very significant. The St. Pete weekend should be a barnburner, as besides IndyCar, all three Mazda Road to Indy series (Indy Lights, Pro Mazda, USF2000) and the Pirelli World Challenge GT/GTA/GT Cup and GTS classes will be in action.

The track has not released a weekend schedule yet, and one of the things to watch will be how much track time each series gets.

If IndyCar only runs Friday as a test day without official sessions, that would leave the majority of the running to the other five classes that day. It would be similar, in a sense, to the Friday that occurred at Sonoma Raceway this year, where PWC and MRTI were on-track all day and there was no IndyCar on-track running at all.

The complication in terms of track time comes with PWC’s split of the GT and GTS classes into standalone races for next season. Through this year, GT and GTS raced and practiced together, but were split for qualifying. Next year, a split is expected for all of practice, qualifying, and the races.

So while the amount of actual series racing on the weekend doesn’t increase – the same five championships that ran at St. Pete will do so again in 2015 – how each series works with the race promoter to determine how much track time they’ll get is going to say a lot.

Sergio Perez wins rain-delayed race in Singapore over Leclerc; Verstappen seventh

Sergio Perez Singapore
Clive Rose/Getty Images,
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SINGAPORE — Max Verstappen’s Formula One title celebrations were put on hold after the Red Bull driver placed seventh at a chaotic Singapore Grand Prix, won by his teammate Sergio Perez on Sunday.

Perez’s second win of the season saw him finish 7.6 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, with Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. in third place.

Perez was investigated for a potential safety car infringement but still kept the win after a 5-second time penalty for dropping too far back after being warned.

Verstappen had won the past five races but needed to win here and finish 22 points ahead of Leclerc to be crowned champion for a second straight season. That could happen next weekend at the Japanese GP.

Verstappen made a mistake after the second safety car restart, following AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda’s crash on Lap 36. When Verstappen tried to overtake Lando Norris’ McLaren, he locked his tires and needed to pit again.

Leclerc started from pole position with Verstappen going from eighth after a team blunder in qualifying.

The race start was delayed by more than an hour to clear water off the Marina Bay Circuit track following heavy rainfall. Drivers had to finish the 61-lap race within a two-hour window; 59 laps were completed.

Tricky conditions saw the virtual safety car deployed three times and DRS was allowed with about 30 minutes remaining.

Perez made a good start and jumped past Leclerc while Verstappen dropped several places. The first safety car was on Lap 8 when Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo was cut off by Nicholas Latifi’s Williams.

Perez got away cleanly at the restart, while Verstappen climbed into seventh behind Fernando Alonso – whose 350th F1 race ended disappointingly when his engine failed on Lap 21, bringing out the first VSC.

With the track still damp, drivers decided against changing to quicker tires – apart from Mercedes’ George Russell, who struggled for grip.

Hamilton made a rare mistake on Lap 33 and thudded into the crash barrier. Soon after, the leading drivers changed tires in a flurry of stops. They did so just before the safety car was deployed again following Tsunoda’s error.

Verstappen overtook Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin right at the end for seventh place.