Photo: IndyCar

Kimball, Carlin top final practice at ISM Raceway

Leave a comment

Final practice for Saturday’s Desert Diamond West Valley Casino Phoenix Grand Prix (9:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN) was held under the lights at ISM Raceway, and Carlin’s Charlie Kimball, in the No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet, found himself at the top of the speed charts when the checkered flag waved on the final practice.

Kimball’s best lap of 179.797 mph bettered Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon, whose best lap in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda came in at 179.003 mph, with Kimball and Dixon the only two to break through the 179 mph barrier during the final practice.

A.J. Foyt Racing’s Tony Kanaan was third in his No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet, with Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi fourth in the No. 27 MilitaryToMotorsports.com Honda. Harding Racing’s Gabby Chaves completed the top five in the No. 88 Chevrolet. Of note: pole sitter Sebastien Bourdais was 21st in the No. 19 SealMaster Honda for Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan.

The lone incident of the session came in the final minutes as Ed Carpenter Racing’s Spencer Pigot drifted high exiting Turn 4 and brushed the outside wall before coming to a stop on the front straightaway.

Pigot’s No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet did not suffer much damage beyond some bent suspension pieces, but it was just extensive enough to prevent him from going back out as the session came to a close.

Results from final practice are below.

Follow@KyleMLavigne.

Max Verstappen shows speed in Austria; Lewis Hamilton lacking pace

Leonhard Foeger/Pool via Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.