Scott Dixon went fastest in Friday practice in St Petersburg as the 2023 IndyCar season kicked off with a messy session featuring high winds, braking issues and track resurfacing causing chaos for the drivers.
St Petersburg’s 20th IndyCar race weekend, and the one with its biggest ever entry at 27, began in scrappy fashion, with plenty of high-profile drivers spinning or hitting the wall.
Some resurfacing in the first sector – especially at Turn 3 which used to be almost flat but is tricky now – and a relatively green track combined to make Turn 4 especially a treacherous braking zone.
Simon Pagenaud, Graham Rahal, Josef Newgarden, Scott McLaughlin and Helio Castroneves all had spins, lock-ups or contact with the wall.
Contact in Turn 9.@josefnewgarden brushing the wall in practice 1.#INDYCAR // #FirestoneGP pic.twitter.com/DZxi29XIQH
— NTT INDYCAR SERIES (@IndyCar) March 3, 2023
One person having an uneventful session was Andretti Autosport’s Kyle Kirkwood who was top for almost the whole 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the final seven minutes of the session when Dixon topped the late improvers at – incredibly – a track he has never won at.
Andretti’s Colton Herta with the last lap of the session jumped to second for Andretti, depriving Chip Ganassi Racing of a 1-2, usurping Alex Palou.
Kirkwood praised a perfect start to the season in fourth, ahead of Pagenaud who had spun early on at Turn 4 but ended the session strong for Meyer Shank Racing.
Ed Carpenter’s Rinus VeeKay was another late improver in sixth ahead of Dale Coyne’s David Malukas, who wasn’t one of the drivers setting a late time and had been second before those flurry of improvements came in the last seven minutes.
Reigning champion Will Power was eighth as the top Penske driver, ahead of the best rookie, Ganassi’s Marcus Armstrong.
Last year’s winner McLaughlin hit the wall at Turn 10 and grazed the wall at Turn 3 with two wicked saves keeping his car relatively unscathed and in the session to round out the top 10.
Defending #FirestoneGP race winner @smclaughlin93 with the CLOSE CALL!#INDYCAR // @Team_Penske pic.twitter.com/ViShrNthA5
— NTT INDYCAR SERIES (@IndyCar) March 3, 2023
While Armstrong was the top rookie, Juncos Hollinger’s Agustin Canapino also impressed as the ex-touring car driver was 0.7s off the best time but only 0.3s off ace team-mate Callum Ilott in his first competitive session.
The fact Canapino was 19th showed how close the session was, the top 23 drivers separated by less than a second.
Pato O’Ward was the best of the Arrow McLaren drivers in 11th with a late improvement, after Felix Rosenqvist had tumbled from a long-time spot in the top five after the late improvements.
This was the first official session IndyCar has used its new fuel produced by Shell that it says is made with 100% renewable materials.
Practice 1 Results
|Pos||Name||Team||Car||Gap Next||Gap Leader||Best Time|
|1||Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||1m01.614s|
|2||Colton Herta||Andretti Autosport||Dallara DW12-Honda||+0.033s||+0.033s||1m01.647s|
|3||Alex Palou||Chip Ganassi Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||+0.032s||+0.065s||1m01.679s|
|4||Kyle Kirkwood||Andretti Autosport||Dallara DW12-Honda||+0.006s||+0.071s||1m01.685s|
|5||Simon Pagenaud||Meyer Shank Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||+0.011s||+0.082s||1m01.696s|
|6||Rinus VeeKay||Ed Carpenter Racing||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||+0.155s||+0.237s||1m01.851s|
|7||David Malukas||Dale Coyne Racing/HMD Motorsports||Dallara DW12-Honda||+0.01s||+0.247s||1m01.861s|
|8||Will Power||Team Penske||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||+0.03s||+0.277s||1m01.891s|
|9||Marcus Armstrong||Chip Ganassi Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||+0.053s||+0.33s||1m01.944s|
|10||Scott McLaughlin||Team Penske||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||+0.044s||+0.374s||1m01.988s|
|11||Patricio O'Ward||Arrow McLaren SP||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||+0.029s||+0.403s||1m02.017s|
|12||Callum Ilott||Juncos Hollinger Racing||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||+0.019s||+0.422s||1m02.036s|
|13||Marcus Ericsson||Chip Ganassi Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||+0.037s||+0.459s||1m02.073s|
|14||Romain Grosjean||Andretti Autosport||Dallara DW12-Honda||+0.033s||+0.492s||1m02.106s|
|15||Felix Rosenqvist||Arrow McLaren SP||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||+0.003s||+0.495s||1m02.109s|
|16||Devlin DeFrancesco||Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport||Dallara DW12-Honda||+0.141s||+0.636s||1m02.25s|
|17||Jack Harvey||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||+0.073s||+0.709s||1m02.323s|
|18||Hélio Castroneves||Meyer Shank Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||+0.006s||+0.715s||1m02.329s|
|19||Agustín Canapino||Juncos Hollinger Racing||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||+0.033s||+0.748s||1m02.362s|
|20||Santino Ferrucci||AJ Foyt Racing||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||+0.041s||+0.789s||1m02.403s|
|21||Alexander Rossi||Arrow McLaren SP||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||+0.058s||+0.847s||1m02.461s|
|22||Josef Newgarden||Team Penske||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||+0.054s||+0.901s||1m02.515s|
|23||Conor Daly||Ed Carpenter Racing||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||+0.033s||+0.934s||1m02.548s|
|24||Sting Ray Robb||Dale Coyne Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||+0.267s||+1.201s||1m02.815s|
|25||Christian Lundgaard||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||+0.226s||+1.427s||1m03.041s|
|26||Graham Rahal||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||+0.097s||+1.524s||1m03.138s|
|27||Benjamin Pedersen||AJ Foyt Racing||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||+0.375s||+1.899s||1m03.513s|