Rossi deposes Herta in IndyCar Spring Training final session
Andretti Autosport's Alexander Rossi finally loosened the stranglehold that Colton Herta had over the NTT IndyCar Series Spring Training at Circuit of the Americas by topping the fourth and final session.
With his final flyer of the session, Rossi set his best lap of the whole test, emerging less than 0.15sec clear of Harding Steinbrenner Racing driver Herta, who was a similar distance ahead of Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti).
The two Chip Ganassi Racing-Hondas of rookie Felix Rosenqvist and Scott Dixon were split by Graham Rahal’s Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing-Honda, while Team Penske’s 2016 champion Simon Pagenaud was fastest Chevrolet driver in seventh.
Story of the session
It took 20 minutes before the first cars ventured onto the track, Marcus Ericsson followed by Schmidt Peterson Motorsports-Honda teammate James Hinchcliffe, who had suffered a fluid leak in the morning session.
Hinchcliffe was the first driver under the 1min50sec and the 1min49sec barriers, and then rookie Ericsson edged within 0.069sec of his teammate. However, 1h20min into the session, Ericsson then spun and made light contact at Turn 2.
Ten minutes later, Herta assumed his now traditional spot at the top of the times with a 1min48.2969sec. Within minutes, Rosenqvist was on top with a 1min47.7559sec lap, and he was shortly to be joined by champion teammate Dixon in the 1:47 bracket.
Into the second half of the session, Rahal turned a 1min48.0, and later Rossi split the Ganassi cars. Meanwhile test pacesetter Herta endlessly tracked Hinchcliffe, running within two cars’ length apparently without issue, his car looking very stable in the wake of the SPM machine.
Tony Kanaan, who’d been having his differential changed, finally turned his first laps of the session but the #14 AJ Foyt Racing machine failed to trouble the top half of the 25-car field.
With 70mins remaining, Herta laid down a 1min47.4015sec – 0.35sec faster Rosenqvist’s best at that stage – and on the following lap improved to a 1min 47.0694sec – apparently the only driver able to make his second flying lap faster than his first on this tire-punishing track. This again hinted at an incredibly stable chassis.
Pagenaud became the fastest of the Penske trio with 63 minutes to go, headed only by Herta and Rosenqvist, but was then knocked back by Hunter-Reay putting his Andretti Autosport-Honda into second, 0.53sec slower than Herta.
He, like Herta, was able to trim his time significantly next time by, however, and drew to within 0.2sec of the Harding Steinbrenner car, and Rossi was also able to emulate this feat to fall just 0.0615sec short of the ultimate pace.
Rahal improved into ‘Happy Hour’ with a 1:47.5 that sent him into fourth, while RC Enerson slotted the Carlin-Chevrolet into eighth.
Power grabbed sixth fastest – quickest of the Chevrolet runners – with a 1min47.6666sec lap, but then spun exiting Turn 19, the penultimate corner, and caused only the second red flag of the session as he needed to be bump started.
Hinchcliffe then deposed Power to grab sixth and come within half a second of Herta’s top spot, and with 10 minutes to go, Harvey spun his Meyer Shank Racing-Honda at Turn 6 bringing out another red.
All but two cars – Jack Harvey and RC Enerson – went out on track for the final five minutes, and while Dixon improved to fifth, Rossi hit the top spot with a 1min46.8535.
Herta closed Rossi’s advantage to 0.1466sec but was caught in traffic, although his Session 2 time from Tuesday afternoon remained the fastest lap of the test.
Pagenaud and Josef Newgarden jumped up to seventh and 10th respectively, knocking Power out of the Top 10 as he too hit traffic.
|1||27||Alexander Rossi||1:46.853||--.----||31||Honda||Andretti Autosport|
|2||88||Colton Herta||1:47.000||0.1466||39||Honda||Harding Steinbrenner Racing|
|3||28||Ryan Hunter-Reay||1:47.176||0.3222||35||Honda||Andretti Autosport|
|4||10||Felix Rosenqvist||1:47.294||0.4406||44||Honda||Chip Ganassi Racing|
|5||15||Graham Rahal||1:47.366||0.5127||39||Honda||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing|
|6||9||Scott Dixon||1:47.368||0.5149||30||Honda||Chip Ganassi Racing|
|7||22||Simon Pagenaud||1:47.469||0.6156||31||Chevy||Team Penske|
|8||5||James Hinchcliffe||1:47.538||0.6844||46||Honda||Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports|
|9||19||Santino Ferrucci||1:47.597||0.7435||29||Honda||Dale Coyne Racing|
|10||2||Josef Newgarden||1:47.662||0.8090||56||Chevy||Team Penske|
|11||12||Will Power||1:47.667||0.8131||43||Chevy||Team Penske|
|12||30||Takuma Sato||1:47.718||0.8648||36||Honda||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing|
|13||7||Marcus Ericsson||1:47.796||0.9423||49||Honda||Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports|
|15||98||Marco Andretti||1:47.999||1.1458||36||Honda||Andretti Herta Autosport|
|16||4||Matheus Leist||1:48.148||1.2950||31||Chevy||AJ Foyt Enterprises|
|17||60||Jack Harvey||1:48.170||1.3163||20||Honda||Meyer Shank Racing|
|18||26||Zach Veach||1:48.189||1.3353||36||Honda||Andretti Autosport|
|19||20||Ed Jones||1:48.195||1.3420||28||Chevy||Ed Carpenter Racing|
|20||18||Sebastien Bourdais||1:48.197||1.3438||42||Honda||Dale Coyne Racing|
|22||3||Helio Castroneves||1:48.418||1.5642||22||Chevy||Team Penske|
|23||14||Tony Kanaan||1:48.555||1.7018||20||Chevy||AJ Foyt Enterprises|
|24||21||Spencer Pigot||1:48.625||1.7714||35||Chevy||Ed Carpenter Racing|
|25||32||Kyle Kaiser||1:48.850||1.9961||31||Chevy||Juncos Racing|
Combined times (all four sessions):
1. Colton Herta (R) 1:46.6258
2. Alexander Rossi 1:46.8535
3. Will Power 1:47.1044
4. Ryan Hunter-Reay 1:47.1757
5. Simon Pagenaud 1:47.2116
6. Felix Rosenqvist 1:47.2941
7. Graham Rahal 1:47.3662
8. Scott Dixon 1:47.3684
9. James Hinchcliffe 1:47.5379
10. Santino Ferrucci 1:47.5970
11. Josef Newgarden 1:47.6625
12. Helio Castroneves 1:47.6949
13. Takuma Sato 1:47.7183
14. Marcus Ericsson 1:47.7958
15. Jack Harvey 1:47.8892
16. RC Enerson (R) 1:47.9094
17. Marco Andretti 1:47.9993
18. Sebastien Bourdais 1:48.0166
19. Matheus Leist 1:48.1485
20. Zach Veach 1:48.1888
21. Ed Jones 1:48.1955
22. Max Chilton 1:48.3640
23. Spencer Pigot 1:48.3987
24. Tony Kanaan 1:48.5553
25. Kyle Kaiser (R) 1:48.8496
Herta on top again in Wednesday morning session
Gallery: The best photos from IndyCar testing at COTA