Vandoorne chasing more wins in push for GP2 title


Stoffel Vandoorne has set his sights on continuing his impressive start to the 2015 GP2 Series season after the summer break as he bids to win the Formula 1 feeder series title.

Vandoorne finished as runner-up to Jolyon Palmer in the 2014 championship, but was kept in GP2 by parent team McLaren so he could, in the words of racing director Eric Boullier, “win the championship as a boss”.

The Belgian driver has lived up to the team’s high expectations in the first half of the season, claiming four race wins and five further podium finishes to establish an 85 point lead at the top of the standings.

Despite enjoying such a sizeable lead, Vandoorne is not looking to ease off and play it safe in races. Instead, he has set his sights on claiming more wins in the remaining five rounds of the season.

“Of course we look at what the others do, but we mainly concentrate on our own job,” Vandoorne said. “I think that’s worked out pretty well since the start of the season.

“The good thing is that we keep on scoring quite big points every weekend. That’s the main target for the remainder of the season.

“I want to win some more races and then we’ll see who will challenge us in the end.”

Vandoorne heads to his home circuit of Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium in three weeks’ time following GP2’s summer break with hopes of avenging his defeat in last year’s race.

The ART Grand Prix driver was embroiled in a spectacular fight with Raffaele Marciello in the wet for much of the race, but could not beat the Italian driver and was ultimately forced to settle for second place.

“I came very close to the victory last year and just missed out two or three laps from the end,” Vandoorne said.

“Hopefully I will be able to take my revenge and win there this year. It would be a really good feeling to win for the fans and for the home crowd.”

IndyCar Power Rankings: Pato O’Ward moves to the top entering Texas Motor Speedway


The NBC Sports IndyCar power rankings naturally were as jumbled as the action on the streets of St. Petersburg after a chaotic opener to the 2023 season.

Pato O’Ward, who finished second because of an engine blip that cost him the lead with a few laps remaining, moves into the top spot ahead of St. Pete winner Marcus Ericsson and Alexander Rossi, who finished fourth in his Arrow McLaren debut. Scott Dixon and St. Pete pole-sitter Romain Grosjean (who led 31 laps) rounded out the top five.

St. Pete pole-sitter Romain Grosjean (who started first at St. Pete after capturing his second career pole position) Callum Ilott (a career-best fifth) and Graham Rahal entered the power rankings entering the season’s second race.

Three drivers fell out of the preseason top 10 after the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg – including previously top-ranked Josef Newgarden, who finished 17th after qualifying 14th.

Heading into Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway, here’s NBC Sports’ assessment of the current top 10 drivers through the first of 17 races this year (with previous preseason rankings in parenthesis):

NBC Sports’ IndyCar Power Rankings

1. Pato O’Ward (5) – If not for the dreaded “plenum event” in the No. 5 Chevrolet, the Arrow McLaren driver is opening the season with a victory capping a strong race weekend.

2. Marcus Ericsson (7) – He might be the most opportunistic driver in IndyCar, but that’s because the 2022 Indy 500 winner has become one of the series’ fastest and most consistent stars.

3. Alexander Rossi (10) – He overcame a frustrating Friday and mediocre qualifying to open his Arrow McLaren career with the sort of hard-earned top five missing in his last years at Andretti.

4. Scott Dixon (3) – Put aside his opening-lap skirmish with former teammate Felix Rosenqvist, and it was a typically stealthily good result for the six-time champion.

5. Romain Grosjean (NR) – The St. Petersburg pole-sitter consistently was fastest on the streets of St. Petersburg over the course of the race weekend, which he couldn’t say once last year.

6. Scott McLaughlin (6) – Easily the best of the Team Penske drivers before his crash with Grosjean, McLaughlin drove like a legitimate 2023 championship contender.

7. Callum Ilott (NR) – A quietly impressive top five for the confident Brit in Juncos Hollinger Racing’s first race as a two-car team. Texas will be a big oval litmus test.

8. Graham Rahal (NR) – Sixth at St. Pete, Rahal still has the goods on street courses, and Rahal Letterman Lanigan remains headed in the right direction.

9. Alex Palou (4) – He seemed a step behind Ericsson and Dixon in the race after just missing the Fast Six in qualifying, but this was a solid start for Palou.

10. Will Power (2) – An uncharacteristic mistake that crashed Colton Herta put a blemish on the type of steady weekend that helped him win the 2022 title.

Falling out (last week): Josef Newgarden (1), Colton Herta (8), Christian Lundgaard (9)