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F1 2015 Driver Review: Felipe Nasr

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Felipe Nasr

Team: Sauber F1 Team
Car No.: 12
Races: 18
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: 5th (Australia)
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 27
Laps Led: 0
Championship Position: 13th

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

As debut seasons in Formula 1 go, Felipe Nasr’s certainly won’t be regarded in either the highest or lowest esteem. However, given the relative pace of the Sauber compared to the rest of the field, coming away with a fifth and sixth place finish to show for 2015 must be regarded as a massive achievement for the Brazilian.

Admittedly, P5 in Australia came about in a race of attrition when Sauber was as near as it would be in terms of pace to the rest of the field, but it was still a gutsy performance on debut. In fact, it is the best result for a Brazilian driver in his first F1 race – impressive when you consider the heritage the nation boasts in the series.

Further points followed in China and Monaco, but Nasr wouldn’t score again until Singapore as the lack of updates on the Sauber proved costly. Nevertheless, he ran well to P6 in Russia, outstripping the ability of the C34 car on a regular basis. An 8-5 victory over Marcus Ericsson in races they both finished doesn’t really sum up the gulf in class between the two.

Nasr certainly showed flashes of brilliance across the course of his rookie F1 season, but quite whether it will be enough to hoist him up the field in the crazy 2017 driver market we’re poised for remains to be seen. Definite room for improvement, but not bad for starters.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

The Brazilian had an F1 career debut similar to Mark Webber, I thought. Fifth at Melbourne in a car that you’d never have expected to score points barring largely surprise and abnormal circumstances matched the Australian’s first outing in 2002. Sad to say things didn’t get quite so rosy the rest of the way but Nasr was dependable, serviceable and occasionally quick during a decently good first season.

The new Sauber was always going to be an improvement upon 2014’s disastrous and scoreless chassis, and matched against Swede Marcus Ericsson, Nasr had someone close enough in experience level that he could consider him of similar stature in the sport. More often than not, Nasr beat his teammate, and when the points opportunities arose, Nasr took them. He was reliable as well, with only two failures to finish.

If there was one thing you’d hold against Nasr – and this isn’t his fault necessarily – he was in a rookie class that featured arguably the most exciting rookie in decades in Max Verstappen, and a teammate in Carlos Sainz Jr. who if reliability had gone his way, would have fairly easily outscored Nasr. It was a solid but unspectacular first season, but he’s done enough to merit another chance.


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.