Sato claims season-opening pole at St. Pete

Sato claims season-opening pole at St. Pete

30 March 2014 – Takuma Sato will start on pole for tomorrow's Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the inaugural race in the 2014 IndyCar Series season. Collecting his fourth career IndyCar pole, Sato qualified nearly 0.3 seconds ahead of second place Tony Kanaan, last year's Indianapolis 500 winner. The four-time defending pole-sitter, Will Power, will start P4 behind Andretti Racing's Ryan Hunter-Reay.

An eventful day in St. Petersburg, Florida, saw the grandstands evacuated around midday for severe storms and a chance of tornados. Qualifying was pushed back for three and a half hours before the track was deemed safe enough to drive, and even then wet tyres weren't enough to prevent several spins and red flags.

Graham Rahal was the first to be caught off-guard by the weather, sliding into the wall early in the first session.  Defending race winner James Hinchcliffe followed suit with a minute to go, guaranteeing that he would not move on to the second round of qualifying. Kanaan, Hunter-Reay, Mike Conway, Marco Andretti, Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe advanced to Q2.

While the second half of the field took to the track for their Q1, the rain diminished slightly, but wet tyres were still needed. Times began to drop as a result, and Takuma Sato again finished the session P1. Moving on to Q2 with him were Scott Dixon, rookies Carlos Munoz and Jack Hawksworth, Power and Sebastian Saavedra.

As Q2 began, Conway, Briscoe and Sato immediately left the pits on slick tyres, hoping the drying track would play into their hands later in the session. Several minutes in, it appeared they had made the right choice. The rest of the field pitted to change to slicks, and by the end of Q2 lap times were equal to those from the dry practice sessions.

When time expired, it looked as though the British rookie Hawksworth would make it to the Firestone Fast Six, but there were still cars on track. Sitting on the bubble as the chequered flag came out, fellow rookie Munoz jumped him only for both to be eliminated by Dixon. Thus no rookies would make it to the pole shootout. Sato led the way ahead of Hunter-Reay, Power, Andretti, Kanaan and Dixon, meaning he had been fastest in three of the five sessions in which he'd taken part this weekend.

With the Fast Six decided, the final ten-minute Q3 began on a totally dry track. Everyone opted for the red-walled Firestone tyres and immediately saw some of the quickest laps of the weekend. A flurry of changes at the top of the time sheet eventually led to Sato in P1, just 0.0028s ahead of Kanaan. As the Brazilian pushed on his final lap he uneventfully spun into the Turn 1 runoff, ending his chances for pole. Sato responded with an even faster lap, stretching his lead to 0.3s before promptly entering pitlane for the final minute.

Kanaan and Hunter-Reay followed suit, leaving only Dixon, Power and Andretti to challenge the Japanese driver, but none of them improved on their final laps, giving Sato the fourth pole of his career.

Sato also started last year on a high note, qualifying second in last year’s season opener for A.J. Foyt Racing.  Two races later he qualified P4 en route to winning his first IndyCar event at the Grand Prix of Long Beach. He held the points lead going into the Indy 500, but a string of poor results relegated him to P17 in the final standings. During his brief IndyCar career, the former F1 driver also won pole in Edmonton, Iowa (both 2011) and Houston (2013).

Of the four rookies in the field this weekend, Munoz and Hawksworth will start in the top ten. Russian Mikhail Aleshin and Colombian Carlos Huertas will start P15 and P17, respectively. Fellow Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya, returning to IndyCar for the first time since 2000, will start P18.

related

Comments

Latest News
Full
Compact

  1. Thursday 31 July 2014

  2. Wolff: Reliability issues masked by team orders 09:49

    Wolff: Reliability issues masked by team orders

    Toto Wolff reckons the team orders controversy at the Hungarian Grand Prix has masked significant reliability problems at...

    F1
  3. Ecclestone backtracks on Briatore input 07:00

    Ecclestone backtracks on Briatore input

    Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has seemingly backtracked on plans to involve ex-team boss Flavio Briatore in a new...

    F1
  4. Video of the Day: Mercedes duo in new advert 05:00

    Video of the Day: Mercedes duo in new advert

    Mercedes team-mates Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton star in the German brand's latest TV advert.

    F1
  5. Wednesday 30 July 2014

  6. Formula E postpones Malaysian round 17:33

    Formula E postpones Malaysian round

    The Malaysian round of the inaugural Formula E campaign has been postponed by five weeks. The event, to be staged in the...

    Formula E
  7. Ex-Caterham staff hit back at team 14:02

    Ex-Caterham staff hit back at team

    The ex-Caterham staff seeking compensation for unfair dismissal have hit back at a team statement. On Monday, around 40...

    F1
  8. Mallya: Force India can catch Williams 13:22

    Mallya: Force India can catch Williams

    Vijay Mallya is hopeful that Force India will be able to reclaim fourth in the Constructors' Championship from Williams...

    F1
  9. Red Bull increases Repsol Honda backing 12:55

    Red Bull increases Repsol Honda backing

    Energy drink company Red Bull has increased its partnership with Honda's factory MotoGP team. After nine years of...

    MotoGP
  10. Video: No 2014 highlights for Räikkönen 12:19

    Video: No 2014 highlights for Räikkönen

    Kimi Räikkönen delivers a typically dry response when asked for his highlights of the 2014 season so far.

    F1
  11. Ecclestone vows to scrap standing restarts 11:06

    Ecclestone vows to scrap standing restarts

    Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has vowed to remove standing restarts from the 2015 regulations, just over a month after...

    F1
  12. Gutiérrez set to begin Sauber contract talks 10:32

    Gutiérrez set to begin Sauber contract talks

    Esteban Gutiérrez says he plans to open contract extension talks with Sauber in the coming weeks. Gutiérrez, a former GP3...

    F1
  13. Mark Sutton: Story behind the shot - Hungary 09:20

    Mark Sutton: Story behind the shot - Hungary

    Especially for lovers of motorsport photography, GPUpdate.net is this season running a feature series entitled Story behind...

    F1
  14. Video of the Day: Chilton looks to Singapore 05:00

    Video of the Day: Chilton looks to Singapore

    Marussia's Max Chilton put in an appearance at the recent 'Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix Experience' in London's...

    F1
  15. Tuesday 29 July 2014

  16. Caterham takes legal action against ex-staff 17:24

    Caterham takes legal action against ex-staff

    The Caterham F1 team is to take legal action against a number of its former employees laid off earlier this month, it has...

    F1
  17. Tost: Too many deficiencies on reliability front 17:11

    Tost: Too many deficiencies on reliability front

    Franz Tost says Toro Rosso must improve its reliability during the second half of the Formula 1 season. Jean-Éric Vergne...

    F1
  18. We have raised our game, says Renault 16:09

    We have raised our game, says Renault

    Renault believes it has "raised its game" in recent races, but admits there is still a need for improvement. Daniel...

    F1
  19. Ecclestone moves to end German lawsuit early 15:01

    Ecclestone moves to end German lawsuit early

    Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has offered to pay BayernLB £20 million if it drops the bribery case against him, his...

    F1
  20. Red Bull has 'overachieved in many aspects' 14:12

    Red Bull has 'overachieved in many aspects'

    Christian Horner reckons Red Bull has "overachieved in many respects" this season, despite the massive 174-point difference...

    F1
  21. Kubica ready for 'Finnish Grand Prix' outing 12:51

    Kubica ready for 'Finnish Grand Prix' outing

    Former BMW and Renault F1 driver Robert Kubica will tackle Rally Finland this week buoyed by his maiden victory at the wheel...

    WRC
  22. Ferrari dismiss reports Fry has been sacked 11:31

    Ferrari dismiss reports Fry has been sacked

    Ferrari has refuted claims that it has parted company with Engineering Director, Pat Fry. According to Sky Sports, Fry...

    F1
  23. 11:00

    Photos: Hungarian GP in black and white

    F1
  24. Jones: Ricciardo grows horns when it counts 10:41

    Jones: Ricciardo grows horns when it counts

    Former Formula 1 World Champion Alan Jones reckons fellow Australian Daniel Ricciardo has proved that he is capable of...

    F1
  25. Hamilton: I will come back stronger after break 09:49

    Hamilton: I will come back stronger after break

    Lewis Hamilton says he will use Formula 1's summer break to "re-energise" himself and get even "fitter" in a bid to become a...

    F1
  26. Winners and Losers at the Hungarian Grand Prix 08:00

    Winners and Losers at the Hungarian Grand Prix

    The Hungaroring produced a thrilling encounter ahead of the Formula 1 summer break, with Red Bull sensation Daniel Ricciardo...

    F1
  27. Video of the Day: Arsenal vs Force India – Part 1 05:00

    Video of the Day: Arsenal vs Force India – Part 1

    See what happened when Gatorade brought Arsenal and Force India together.

    F1
  28. Monday 28 July 2014

  29. Porsche SA buys Kyalami circuit at auction 15:00

    Porsche SA buys Kyalami circuit at auction

    South Africa's Kyalami circuit, which hosted F1 for almost two decades, has been bought by Porsche. The 72-hectare...

    F1
  30. Post-race penalties hand Marciello point 14:32

    Post-race penalties hand Marciello point

    Racing Engineering driver and Ferrari youngster Raffaele Marciello has moved into the points for the second Hungaroring GP2...

    GP2
  31. Horner lauds 'truly sensational' Ricciardo 13:31

    Horner lauds 'truly sensational' Ricciardo

    Christian Horner has heaped praise on Hungarian Grand Prix winner Daniel Ricciardo for delivering a "truly sensational"...

    F1
  32. Mattiacci: We must not delude ourselves 12:39

    Mattiacci: We must not delude ourselves

    Marco Mattiacci says Ferrari must keep its feet firmly on the ground after claiming a sizeable points haul at the Hungarian...

    F1
  33. Video: Rosberg reflects on Hungarian GP 11:07

    Video: Rosberg reflects on Hungarian GP

    Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg reflects on an eventful Hungarian Grand Prix, which included a costly Safety Car period, a team...

    F1
  34. Villeneuve: Rosberg tried to ruin Hamilton's race 10:47

    Villeneuve: Rosberg tried to ruin Hamilton's race

    Jacques Villeneuve believes that Nico Rosberg tried to "destroy" Lewis Hamilton's Hungarian Grand Prix. Rosberg was...

    F1
  35. Caterham team facing legal action from ex-staff 10:10

    Caterham team facing legal action from ex-staff

    The Caterham F1 team is facing legal action from around 40 former employees, laid off earlier this month. Since Tony...

    F1
  36. Sutil positive despite narrowly missing point 09:32

    Sutil positive despite narrowly missing point

    Adrian Sutil extracted the positives after narrowly missing out on his and Sauber's first point of the season at the...

    F1
  37. Lauda backs Hamilton over team orders 09:02

    Lauda backs Hamilton over team orders

    Mercedes Non-Executive Chairman Niki Lauda says Lewis Hamilton was completely within his rights to ignore instructions to...

    F1
  38. Räikkönen says sixth was maximum result 07:23

    Räikkönen says sixth was maximum result

    Kimi Räikkönen says finishing sixth in the Hungarian Grand Prix was the most he could have hoped for after a disastrous q...

    F1
  39. Video of the Day: Stories from Senna's mechanic 05:14

    Video of the Day: Stories from Senna's mechanic

    Neil Trundle, former Chief Mechanic to Ayrton Senna, discusses his time working with a legend of the sport.

    F1
  40. 03:06

    Championship standings after Hungary

    F1
  41. Sunday 27 July 2014

  42. Bottas feels tyre strategy cost podium shot 19:54

    Bottas feels tyre strategy cost podium shot

    Williams driver Valtteri Bottas reckons he could have been in the podium fight in Hungary if he had chosen a better tyre...

    F1
  43. Mercedes to discuss Hungary team orders 18:18

    Mercedes to discuss Hungary team orders

    Mercedes says it will hold internal discussions with its drivers after the outfit issued team orders during the Hungarian...

    F1
  44. Force India drivers apologetic after incidents 17:56

    Force India drivers apologetic after incidents

    Force India drivers Nico Hülkenberg and Sergio Pérez have both apologised to their team after retiring from the Hungarian G...

    F1
  45. Button laments misleading weather forecast 17:14

    Button laments misleading weather forecast

    Jenson Button was left to lament a missed opportunity after getting caught out by false rain predictions in the Hungarian...

    F1
more news