Pato O’Ward fastest by almost 0.4s in first practice at Mid-Ohio

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O’Ward’s efforts in practice get him to the top of the time sheets.

Photo credit: Arrow McLaren

The weekend started at Mid-Ohio with the championship contenders on top. Pato O’Ward was the fastest of the first practice session with a 1:06:4935. a time faster than his pole position last year. Championship leader Alex Palou follows him in second, with a time 3 and a half tenths slower. Marcus Ericsson completes the Top-3.Arrow McLaren had their best weekend, in regards to pace, at this venue last year. But it seems that the track changes affected the team’s setup. Besides O’Ward getting the fastest time, with a margin to Alex Palou, Alexander Rossi finished 9th, and a couple of excursions through the grass, and Felix Rosenqvist could only be 13th after a promising showing on blacks. It’s an uncommon place for the team this season, as the three cars are normally evenly matched.Andretti Autosport is a highlight of this first practice session. The team could get three out of their four cars inside the top 10: Kirkwood in 5th; Grosjean close behind in 6th and Herta in 10th. Devlin DeFrancesco was 12th with a solid result. But, the talking point within the team is the change of Colton Herta’s strategist once again: the team decided to swap the No. 26 strategist, formerly on the No. 27, with DeFrancesco’s. It is Herta’s third strategist in only half a season.One of the most comfortable teams on the track was Chip Ganassi Racing. Alex Palou showed great pace as usual throughout the whole session. In the end on the alternate tyre laps, he could only slot into second place, however. Teammate Marcus Ericsson was just behind. O’Ward, Palou, and Ericsson, were the only drivers to get into the 1:06s mark.

Scott Dixon and Marcus Armstrong disappointed, ending the session in 15th and 18th respectively.

Team Penske had a solid session. Their three drivers stayed in the top-5 through a great portion of the session. In the end, Newgarden was 7th, McLaughlin was 8th and Power was the only one out of the top 10, in 14th.A surprise in this session was Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s pace. Christian Lundgaard was able to lead the session on blacks and show great speed. When the chequered flag dropped, he had the 4th fastest time. Jack Harvey was also really fast and was only shy of the top-10. Graham Rahal was the only driver to have a tricky car, and he finished 19th.It was a predominantly uninterrupted session. The only stoppage was caused by Helio Castroneves losing the car at the exit of turn 5 and stalling the engine. Santino Ferrucci had an electronic issue but could come back to the pits safely.

With some track changes, a resurface of turn 1, and some added kerbs at turns 1, 2, and 9, drivers were finding the limits and getting onto the grass.

This was the only session today. Tomorrow, you can read about Practice 2 and Qualifying here at Pit Debrief.