Mid-Ohio podium adds to increased optimism for Simon Pagenaud

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Simon Pagenaud’s evolution in his first season with Team Penske continues to move forward.

Pagenaud is coming off his second podium appearance of the 2015 season, having finished third in Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.

Starting near the middle of the pack (15th), the French native deftly worked his way to near the front of the field.

Pagenaud wound up behind winner Graham Rahal and runner-up Justin Wilson (who earned his first podium and best finish of 2015, far surpassing his previous season-best of 17th the week before at Iowa).

Pagenaud’s previous podium came in Belle Isle 1 on May 30, also a third-place showing.

“It was a great day for the PPG Chevy, really,” Pagenaud said after Sunday’s race. “We had the roughest weekend of all. We had some mechanical issues earlier in the weekend, and Chevy and the whole team put a new engine in the back of the car for qualifying and then it was good.”

Pagenaud has enjoyed several decent runs of late. He qualified on the pole and finished ninth at Fontana, followed by another ninth-place showing in the next race at Milwaukee. And then there’s how he did at Mid-Ohio.

After enduring two DNFs in the first five races, Pagenaud is definitely starting to make up for some of the ground he lost earlier in the season.

With two races remaining (Aug. 23 at Pocono and the season finale at Sonoma on Aug. 30), Pagenaud appears to be on-track for a top-10 finish at season’s end in the Verizon IndyCar Series point standings.

While that’s a far cry from where he’s finished each of the last three seasons – third in 2013 (included two wins) and fifth in both 2012 and 2014 (two other wins) – there is indeed reason for even more optimism going forward.

“It’s funny how it works,” Pagenaud said. “We qualified badly and then we have a podium (finish). Good day, good day for the guys, it’s uplifting. We bounced back.”

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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.