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.

Rossi deposes Herta in IndyCar Spring Training 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.

Testing times:

Pos No Driver Time Gap Laps Engine Team
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
14 23 RC Enerson 1:47.909 1.0559 38 Chevy Carlin
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
21 59 Max Chilton 1:48.364 1.5105 33 Chevy Carlin
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

Previous article

Herta on top again in Wednesday morning session

Next article

Herta’s amazing test pace was real, says top Andretti engineer

Herta’s amazing test pace was real, says top Andretti engineer
Load comments
The lasting legacy of a fallen Indy car rookie Prime

The lasting legacy of a fallen Indy car rookie

Jeff Krosnoff was plucked out of obscurity to become a respected and highly popular professional in Japan, and then got his big break in CART Indy car for 1996. But a tragic accident at Toronto 25 years ago cut short a promising career and curtailed his regular teammate Mauro Martini's passion for racing.

Jul 14, 2021
The winners and losers in IndyCar 2021 – Mid-season review Prime

The winners and losers in IndyCar 2021 – Mid-season review

At the halfway point in the 2021 NTT IndyCar Series season, we've had seven winners in eight races, spread between five teams – none of them Team Penske. In this unusual season, even by IndyCar standards, who’s excelling and who’s dragging their heels? David Malsher-Lopez reports.

Jun 18, 2021
The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness Prime

The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness

Long-awaited wins for ex-Formula 1 drivers Marcus Ericsson and Kevin Magnussen in IndyCar and IMSA last weekend gave F1 a reminder of what it is missing. But with the new rules aimed at levelling the playing field, there’s renewed optimism that more drivers can have a rewarding result when their day of days comes

Formula 1
Jun 17, 2021
Castroneves: How I kept it under control to make Indy 500 history Prime

Castroneves: How I kept it under control to make Indy 500 history

Helio Castroneves’ overwhelming vivaciousness outside the cockpit belies a hardcore racer who knows how to plot his moves – and then recall it all for us. A day after his fourth Indy 500 win, Helio explained his tactics to David Malsher-Lopez.

Jun 2, 2021
How 'chess master' Castroneves cemented his Indy legend status Prime

How 'chess master' Castroneves cemented his Indy legend status

Helio Castroneves joined AJ Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears with the most Indianapolis 500 wins after sweeping around the outside of Alex Palou on the penultimate lap in a thrilling climax. In one race, he validated Michael Shank's and Jim Meyer's faith in him, and Helio himself discovered there's life after Penske after all.

Jun 1, 2021
Indy 500 preview: Will experience or youth be victorious? Prime

Indy 500 preview: Will experience or youth be victorious?

A quarter of the drivers racing in the 105th edition of the Indianapolis 500 are former winners - but are they the favourites? The veteran drivers largely impressed in qualifying - but there's also a plethora of young guns looking to secure victory at IndyCar's flagship race...

May 25, 2021
What will it take to get American drivers in Formula 1? Prime

What will it take to get American drivers in Formula 1?

The FIA says it wants American drivers in Formula 1, but would it take an IndyCar driver to transfer or does an American need to join the European junior ladder system to get there? By David Malsher-Lopez.

Formula 1
May 19, 2021
Why IndyCar is satisfying Grosjean’s appetite for his second life Prime

Why IndyCar is satisfying Grosjean’s appetite for his second life

After spending the majority of his 179-race Formula 1 career in middling to tail-end machinery, Romain Grosjean finds himself once again with an underdog team in IndyCar. While not without its challenges, he's relishing the more level playing field that means his Dale Coyne Racing crew can expect to claim a few scalps...

May 14, 2021