Rosberg: No explanation for late-season upturn in form

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Nico Rosberg has no explanation for his upturn in form towards the end of the 2015 Formula 1 season, but was delighted to pick up his fifth win in Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix.

Rosberg failed to put up much of a fight to Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton for this year’s drivers’ championship as the Briton wrapped up the title with three races to spare in Austin last month.

However, Rosberg has enjoyed a rapid improvement in fortunes since then, taking the last five pole positions heading into the race at Interlagos.

Rosberg controlled proceedings from start to finish, only losing the lead for three laps through the pit stops before crossing the line 7.7 seconds clear of Hamilton in second place.

The result secured back-to-back victories for Rosberg following his success in Mexico, and also marked his second straight win in Brazil.

Speaking on the podium, Rosberg was delighted to have dominated the race in such fashion, but spared a thought for the victims of the Paris terrorist attack on Friday.

“It’s been a great weekend for me here,” Rosberg said. “Of course everything is relative with what happened back in Paris, but still yeah, very, very happy.

“It went perfectly. Lewis put up a good challenge but I was able to control it and never give him a chance.”

Rosberg saw his lead drop to as little as 0.3 seconds in the early stages of the race, but the German insisted that he was always in control and only eased off at points to save his tires.

“No, no issues, just controlling the pace, never over-doing it, to not risk making a mistake and to not risk having too much degradation,” he said.

“We saw Lewis dropping off a lot with degradation in the second stint. Back in front, it was important to take care of the tires.”

When told by ex-F1 driver and podium interviewer Martin Brundle that he needed to produce this form earlier in the season, Rosberg wryly responded: “Thank you very much for that piece of advice…

“I’m pushing now as I was pushing at the beginning of the season. I don’t have an exact explanation for why it’s going so strongly now, but I’ll just keep it going.”

Victory in Brazil also secured Rosberg second place in the drivers’ championship for 2015, pulling him 31 points clear of Sebastian Vettel with 25 remaining in Abu Dhabi.

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.

PRACTICE CHART: Click here to see the speed rundown from Thursday’s session

FRIDAY AT IMS: Details for watching Race 1 of the Harvest GP

Qualifying for Friday’s race will be at 6:20 p.m. ET Thursday 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 Oliver Askew (who is recovering from concussion-like symptoms), 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 of road and street courses 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.”

Johnson told Lee his sponsorship hunt to run a Ganassi car “has gone really well. The fact that I’m here today and ingrained so deeply in the team is a great sign of where things are going. Looking forward to getting behind the wheel of a car soon and hopefully having some announcements for the world to see soon, too.”

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.