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INDYCAR reveals initial 2018 aero kit concept drawings

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The formal 2018 spec aero kit for INDYCAR will be revealed at a later date, but today at the North American International Auto Show marks the debut of the potential of what the new vision of the kits could well look like.

It’s the second and arguably bigger piece of news on the day, following INDYCAR’s confirmation this morning it has agreed to a three-year extension with Dallara through 2020.

INDYCAR’s release is below, with more comments from INDYCAR President of Competition and Operations, Jay Frye, to follow later Thursday.

As INDYCAR works toward a universal aerodynamic bodywork kit for all Verizon IndyCar Series cars in 2018, the development process is well under way.

Jay Frye, INDYCAR president of competition and operations, unveiled a series of initial concept drawings for how the car might look during a media roundtable at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS).

Without revealing specific details to how the cars and their accompanying aerodynamic bodywork will look when they hit the track for the 2018 season, Frye offered the first visual peek into the future at INDYCAR’s NAIAS exhibit in the Motor City.

The drawings were completed months ago, but they give the first concept designs that will cover the Dallara IR-12 chassis. The images revealed will not be what the cars wind up looking like in 2018, but they provided the first public direction of the process.

INDYCAR will share more details of the development process in coming weeks, including another public update following the 2017 preseason’s open test Feb. 10-11 at Phoenix International Raceway. The goal is to have a car built for display at the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil in May, with on-track testing in the summer.

INDYCAR previously announced a development freeze for the upcoming season, which means teams will use the aero kits offered by Chevrolet and Honda for the 17 races. The season opens two months from today, March 12, with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Max Verstappen shows speed in Austria; Lewis Hamilton lacking pace

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SPIELBERG, Austria — Red Bull driver Max Verstappen posted the fastest time Friday, and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton lacked pace in the second practice session for the Styrian Grand Prix.

Verstappen was 0.043 seconds quicker than Valtteri Bottas – Hamilton’s teammate at Mercedes – and 0.217 ahead of Racing Point driver Sergio Perez.

“The car already feels better than last week, the balance is a lot nicer and we have made a good step,” said Verstappen, who did not finish last Sunday’s season-opening Austrian GP after starting from second.

“It is too early to say how we are looking against Mercedes, but we are quite happy. We have tried a few different directions to understand the car a bit more and we are heading the right way.”

Hamilton was only sixth fastest, about 0.7 seconds slower than Verstappen. Hamilton spent a chunk of time in the garage while his team worked on his car.

“It was quite far off, so there’s a lot of work to do in the background to figure it out,” he said. “Others out there are quick and Valtteri’s obviously got good pace.”

Despite adding a new front wing to its car, struggling Ferrari had a dismal afternoon.

Charles Leclerc was only ninth quickest and 1 second slower than Verstappen, while teammate Sebastian Vettel lagged about 2 seconds behind Verstappen in 16th.

Daniel Ricciardo lost control of his Renault car early into the second session, swerving left off the track and thudding backward into a protective tire wall. He climbed out unharmed, other than a slight limp, but the left rear tire was mangled and the car was lifted off the track by a crane.

Alexander Albon spun twice, the Red Bull driver’s second spin taking him right off the track and into gravel.

Earlier, Perez was fastest in the first practice ahead of Verstappen and Bottas, with Hamilton fourth quickest and Vettel only 10th in sunny conditions.

That session was briefly interrupted when Nicholas Latifi’s Williams car pulled over to the side with a gearbox issue.

The incident brought out yellow flags, forcing drivers to slow down. But McLaren driver Lando Norris overtook Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri and got a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

Norris, 20, finished third at the Austrian GP last weekend, becoming the youngest British driver in F1 history to get on the podium and third youngest in F1.

The upcoming race is changing names from last week but is at the same track. It is surrounded by the Styrian mountains.

A third and final practice will be held on Saturday morning before qualifying in the afternoon, with heavy rain and storms in the forecast.

If third practice and qualifying are washed out, drivers take their grid positions from where they placed in second practice.

“It would definitely suck if we didn’t get to qualify,” said Hamilton, who started fifth and finished fourth last weekend. “It would make it challenging.”

However, qualifying also could be moved to Sunday morning.

“I don’t expect to be on pole position with this (practice) lap,” Verstappen said.