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Practice report

St. Petersburg IndyCar: Newgarden heads Penske team-mate Power

Josef Newgarden led Team Penske team-mate Will Power in opening practice for the second round of the 2021 IndyCar Series season at St Petersburg.

Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet

Richard Dole / Motorsport Images

After several minutes were lost when the data system went down, the session got underway with rookie trio Scott McLaughlin, Jimmie Johnson and Romain Grosjean heading out first.

But it was Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi who was first to break into the 60-second bracket with a 60.865s.

Rossi’s team-mate Colton Herta responded by snipping just 0.03s off that lap, with nine-time St Petersburg polesitter Power lowering the barrier by a further 0.02s.

Felix Rosenqvist’s progress was hampered by a technical issue in his Arrow McLaren SP, and when he got underway he outbraked himself at Turn 7.

Newgarden, who has won the last two races at St Petersburg, sprung to the top of the times with a 60.803s with just 11 minutes to go.

“It’s hard to get [tyre] temperature, on the first initial laps,” said the two-time IndyCar champion. “It’s what most are going to struggle with this weekend. But I expect we'll get more grip the more we run."

Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet

Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet

Photo by: Barry Cantrell / Motorsport Images

Sebastien Bourdais caused a brief red when he slithered down the Turn 10 runoff with just under three minutes left, and then stalled as he tried to rejoin.

That left no time for improvements, leaving the top runners incredibly close – with the top 15 covered by just half a second led by Newgarden and Power, with Herta in third closely followed by Andretti team-mate Rossi.

All four Team Penske cars were in the top eight, as Scott Dixon re-established himself as Ganassi’s unofficial team leader in sixth place, with Barber winner Alex Palou in 20th, while Rosenqvist bounced back from his earlier issues to take seventh place and edge team-mate and Barber polesitter Pato O’Ward into ninth – with the Arrow McLaren SP drivers split by McLaughlin.

Fellow rookie Johnson was 2.3s off the pace but only a couple of tenths behind the more experienced Dalton Kellett, although the Foyt driver has not competed in IndyCar at this track before. Grosjean was 19th, 0.8s from the top, but ahead of Barber winner Palou.

Second practice begins at 9.45am local time on Saturday.

IndyCar St Petersburg - FP1 results

Cla Driver Team Laps Time Gap
1 United States Josef Newgarden United States Team Penske 19 1'00.802  
2 Australia Will Power United States Team Penske 16 1'00.810 0.007
3 United States Colton Herta United States Andretti Autosport 17 1'00.834 0.031
4 United States Alexander Rossi United States Andretti Autosport 18 1'00.865 0.062
5 France Simon Pagenaud United States Team Penske 17 1'00.899 0.096
6 New Zealand Scott Dixon United States Chip Ganassi Racing 16 1'00.915 0.112
7 Sweden Felix Rosenqvist Arrow McLaren SP 14 1'00.995 0.192
8 New Zealand Scott McLaughlin United States Team Penske 20 1'01.015 0.212
9 Mexico Patricio O'Ward Arrow McLaren SP 14 1'01.060 0.257
10 United States Graham Rahal United States Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 19 1'01.091 0.288
11 Sweden Marcus Ericsson United States Chip Ganassi Racing 15 1'01.117 0.314
12 Netherlands Rinus van Kalmthout United States Ed Carpenter Racing 16 1'01.175 0.372
13 United States Ryan Hunter-Reay United States Andretti Autosport 15 1'01.194 0.391
14 France Sébastien Bourdais United States A.J. Foyt Enterprises 16 1'01.269 0.466
15 United Kingdom Jack Harvey United States Meyer Shank Racing 16 1'01.298 0.495
16 United States Conor Daly United States Ed Carpenter Racing 17 1'01.361 0.558
17 Canada James Hinchcliffe Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport 18 1'01.402 0.599
18 Japan Takuma Sato United States Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 19 1'01.460 0.657
19 France Romain Grosjean Dale Coyne Racing with RWR 26 1'01.605 0.802
20 Spain Alex Palou United States Chip Ganassi Racing 19 1'01.739 0.936
21 United Arab Emirates Ed Jones Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan 12 1'02.153 1.350
22 United Kingdom Max Chilton United Kingdom Carlin 14 1'02.276 1.473
23 Canada Dalton Kellett United States A.J. Foyt Enterprises 20 1'02.926 2.124
24 United States Jimmie Johnson United States Chip Ganassi Racing 26 1'03.131 2.328

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