Fallows confident Red Bull can make aero gains

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Red Bull Racing’s head of aerodynamics Dan Fallows is confident that the team can bounce back from a difficult start to the 2015 Formula 1 season by making big gains with updates on the RB11 car over the next few grands prix.

The team has dropped back into the midfield in F1 due to a number of problems with the RB11, with the Renault power unit being the biggest grievance for the former champions.

In fact, the issues have prompted Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz to threaten to quit F1 altogether unless changes are made to reduce the focus on engine power and ability in the sport.

In spite of the issues being faced by Red Bull, Fallows is confident that the team can use its aerodynamic expertise – the decisive factor in the team’s title streak between 2010 and 2013 – to cut the gap to Mercedes at the front of the pack.

“We went into 2015 knowing we had a long way to catch-up,” Fallows said. “Everybody knows where our major deficit is but frankly, why we’re being outperformed is irrelevant.

“We have it in our power, in the aerodynamics department, to do something about it.

“F1 has plenty of performance differentiators: there’s the driver, the power unit, the aerodynamics, the use of tires and so on, but there’s really only one aspect over which the aero team can have a fundamental impact.

“So we go into the year knowing what the deficit is and working on the basis that it’s our job in this department to close that gap.

“We can do it because we have to the tools to do it, we’ve done it before and the aim is to do it again.”

Like most of the teams, Red Bull will arrive in Barcelona for next weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix with a major upgrade package for the RB11 car, providing a boost to drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat after a tough start to the 2015 season.

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.

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 the injured Oliver Askew, 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 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.”

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.