SONOMA, Calif – Santino Ferrucci is about to embark on just this third weekend in the Verizon IndyCar Series. Sunday’s Sonoma Grand Prix (6:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN/INDYCAR Radio Network) will be his fourth career series start. He raced the doubleheader in Belle Isle in early June and the race at Portland on Labor Day weekend. That’s the extent of his Indy Car career.
Other than that, his only other on track time was in a test at Putnamville in late May. His Dale Coyne Racing teammate of Pietro Fittipaldi is set to make just his sixth career Indy Car start on Sunday too.
Despite that, both drivers were strong in the two practice sessions around the 2.385-mile Sonoma Raceway on Friday.
Ferrucci, was 12th and eighth respectively in the sessions. He turned a lap of 1:18.599-seconds in his No. 39 Honda in session 1 and 1:18.596-seconds in the final session of the day. Impressive for him that’s for sure.
“Practice was pretty good today,” said Ferrucci. “In the morning session, we were running really well. I was still learning the track and I made a driving mistake in the last chicane and lost something like four-tenths. Then this afternoon, in Practice 2, it went better than I had expected it to. It shows that we have some good pace again on the red (Firestone primary) tires. We’re working hard to keep improving that and we’ll see where we can place our Cly-Del Manufacturing car on the grid tomorrow.”
Ferrucci, could have had two top 15 finishes already if he didn’t have bad luck. He’s never raced on these tracks before but he’s showing to have the speed to contend with drivers who’s been doing this for years.
So far Fittipaldi.
The Brazilian rookie was 11th in the initial 45 minute session in his No. 19 Honda turning a lap of 1:18.444-seconds. In the second session he improved to ninth with a time of 1:18.601-seconds.
“I think practice went well today with our Paysafe car,” Fittipaldi said. “The morning session had a lot more grip than the afternoon, but it was like that for everyone. In the afternoon, the temperatures were a lot higher and that changes how the car feels. The track was a lot more slippery, but it’s like that around here. It’s hard to put together one lap, but that’s what we’re going to have to do in qualifying. We were able to be in the top 10 today in practice, but tomorrow is when it counts, so we’ll go debrief with the engineers, find the ideal set up and try to get a top-10 qualifying tomorrow, and hopefully, do the same thing in the race.”
For comparison, Sebastien Bourdais was 18th in the second session.