IndyCar: St. Pete practice two scrubbed due to rain, and other notes

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ST. PETERSBURG – The second practice session for the Verizon IndyCar Series’ season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg was completed earlier Friday afternoon with exactly zero laps completed, due to a wet track. Free practice one times were very solid earlier in the day.

Some other notes from day one at St. Petersburg include…

  • Juan Pablo Montoya, who had led first practice until teammate Will Power knocked him off, felt much more comfortable on this Friday compared to last year. “Last year was a tough year for us at the beginning. We knew that. Normally I’m really good at remembering everything about every track and last year I think this was such a blur for me.”
  • CFH Racing’s new pairing of Josef Newgarden and Luca Filippi visited the media center for their first availability together as teammates. Filippi, who has eight prior IndyCar starts but is making his first St. Pete driving appearance this weekend, said it only takes him roughly 7 to 8 laps when closing on the limit, and then 35 laps on another set. “If it takes longer, then you just need to change jobs!” Filippi joked, to much laughter.
  • Chip Ganassi Racing Teams rookie Sage Karam estimated he was only operating at “90 percent” today as he recovers from his hand injury, and the No. 8 GE LED Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet team is, like many teams, low on spare parts.
  • Fellow rookie Gabby Chaves, of the single-car Bryan Herta Autosport operation, estimated that he and his team went down the wrong road on setup. But as they were bullish on their recent NOLA test, he feels confident things can improve.
  • The other big news of the day was a collaborative partnership announced between SRO and Pirelli World Challenge, where SRO’s Blancpain GT Series will come to Circuit of the Americas next March after some PWC teams go to the Baku World Challenge to end 2015.
  • Carlin Racing impressed with a 1-2 finish in the first Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires session of the year, with Ed Jones leading Max Chilton.

Michael Schumacher’s son to make F1 practice debut at Nurburgring

F1 Mick Schumacher
Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images
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MARANELLO, Italy — Mick Schumacher, son of the legednary seven-time champion, will have an official Formula One drive during an F1 race weekend for the first time next week at the Nurburgring, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari said Tuesday.

Schumacher gets the practice drive in an Alfa Romeo on Oct. 9 on his home track in Germany as a member of Ferrari’s young driver program, taking over Antonio Giovinazzi’s car for the first session of the weekend.

“I am overjoyed to get this chance in free practice,” Schumacher said in a statement. “I’m going to prepare myself well, so that I can do the best possible job for the team and gain some valuable data for the weekend.”

The 21-year-old Schumacher leads the Formula 2 standings after winning races in Monza and Sochi. He won the European Formula 3 championship in 2018 and tested a Ferrari F1 car in Bahrain in April 2019. He also has done demonstration runs in his father’s old cars, most recently this month ahead of the Tuscan Grand Prix in a championship-winning 2004 Ferrari.

Michael Schumacher holds the F1 record with 91 victories, which Lewis Hamilton is on the verge of tying.

Ferrari said two other drivers in its academy program will also get practice drives in Formula One.

Callum Ilott, a British driver who is second to Mick Schumacher in F2, will drive an F1 Haas at the Nurburgring on the same day as Schumacher. Russian driver Robert Shwartzman will drive in practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Dec. 11, though Ferrari hasn’t said for which team.

The German round was added to the F1 schedule after the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the season and will be officially known as the Eifel Grand Prix after a nearby mountain range. The Nurburgring last hosted F1 in 2013.