2017 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
The 2017 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg was the first round of the 2017 IndyCar Series. The race was held on March 12, 2017, in St. Petersburg, Florida, on the city's temporary street circuit. The race was won by Sébastien Bourdais, coming from last place on the grid.
|1st round of the 2017 IndyCar Series season|
|Date||March 12, 2017|
|Official name||Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg|
|Location||Streets of St. Petersburg|
|Course||Temporary street circuit|
1.800 mi / 2.897 km
198.000 mi / 318.670 km
|Driver||Will Power (Team Penske)|
|Driver||Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing)|
|Time||1:02.0786 (on lap 82 of 110)|
|First||Sébastien Bourdais (Dale Coyne Racing)|
|Second||Simon Pagenaud (Team Penske)|
|Third||Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing)|
Prior to the 2017 running of the event, many of the streets used for the circuit were repaved. However, a series of bumps caused by the repaving in the turn 3 area caused several cars in support races to lose control. As a result, the turn was reconfigured, with the outside wall moved back 40 feet and curbing added to the inside of the corner, making the turn sharper and slower.
Qualifying for the event took place on Saturday, March 11. Will Power grabbed pole position, marking the seventh time that the Australian had qualified first at St. Petersburg. His time of 1:01.0640 (at an average of 106.12 mph (170.12 km/h)) stood nearly two-tenths faster than second place qualifier Scott Dixon's and confirming St. Petersburg's status as the slowest track on the calendar. Rounding out the top six were James Hinchcliffe, Josef Newgarden, Takuma Sato, and Tony Kanaan. Defending champion Simon Pagenaud struggled during qualifications, relegating him to a 14th place start. Sébastien Bourdais brought out the lone red flag of qualifying after crashing into the outside barriers in turn 13 during his out lap. Under new IndyCar regulations, Bourdais was parked for the remainer of the session for bringing out the red flag. Having not completed a lap, Bourdais was relegated to starting 21st and last.
The race was held on Sunday, March 12. The beginning of the race saw Will Power protect his first place start, while James Hinchcliffe managed to pass Scott Dixon for second place. While the entire field made it through the first turn cleanly, the second and third turns caused issues. Coming through turn 2, Graham Rahal and Charlie Kimball made contact, sending Rahal into a spin and sending Kimball toward the outside wall in turn 3, where he collected Carlos Muñoz. Hélio Castroneves, Ed Jones, and Mikhail Aleshin also suffered damage in the incident. The incident brought out the first full-course caution of the event.
On the restart on lap 5, Hinchcliffe immediately moved into the lead with a move around the outside of turn 1 and began to pull away, extending his lead to over four seconds by lap 12. On lap 14, Power suddenly dived into the pits with a puncture, sending him to the back of the field. Leaving the pits, Power ran over an air hose, which incurred a drive-through penalty and put him even further behind the leader. Scott Dixon moved into second place after Power's emergency pit stop.
On lap 20, the first round of green flag pit stops began, with several drivers further down the order, including Sébastien Bourdais and Simon Pagenaud, being some of the first in. However, the race's second full-course caution came out in the middle of this pit sequence on lap 26, when Tony Kanaan and Mikhail Aleshin made contact in turn 4, littering the track with debris. The caution forced the top seven drivers in the race to pit during the caution and lose large amounts of track positions. In the pit lane, Spencer Pigot, who had been running fifth prior to the pit stop, suffered a failure and subsequent explosion of the left-rear brake on his car, eventually forcing him out of the race. Following the pit stops for the leaders, Pagenaud was the leader of the race, with Bourdais and Marco Andretti in second and third.
Racing resumed on lap 30 with no major action up front. Further back, Scott Dixon briefly lost acceleration on his car, sending him well down the order. In turn 2, Conor Daly and Ryan Hunter-Reay made contact, but both were able to avoid significant damage. On lap 37, the lead of the race changed hands again when Sébastien Bourdais was able to pass Simon Pagenaud in turn 1. Bourdais quickly began to pull away.
The second round of green flag pit stops began on lap 50, this time with no interruption from a caution period. After the cycle was complete, Bourdais and Pagenaud remained first and second, while Will Power moved up to third, though Power's early pit stops meant that he was off-sequence from the rest of the leaders. Up front, Bourdais began to expand his lead even farther than on the previous stint, as his team had no concerns about saving fuel that others had. Farther back in the field, Scott Dixon had begun to move back up through the field after his earlier woes, slotting into seventh place by lap 75.
The final round of green flag pit stops began on lap 77, when the off-sequence Power brought his car in. Alexander Rossi also pitted due to a leak in one of his tires. Once again, Bourdais emerged in front of Pagenaud and Power as the race leader. During this sequence, Takuma Sato suffered from a delayed pit stop after a wheel-gun jammed, causing the Japanese driver to lose a few positions. Dixon continued his climb back through the field, emerging from the sequence with fourth place. Shortly after the end of the pit-stops, Power slowed severely on track with an issue with the fuel-feed. Despite efforts to get the issue fixed without bringing the car into the pits, Power was black flagged for running too slowly and eventually retired from the race due to a mechanical issue.
Up front, the last laps proved no issue for Bourdais, who had, by the end of the race, pulled out over 10 seconds on second place Pagenaud. Third place went to Dixon, who was able to recover from his early race issues, but was also puzzled by the caution that came out after Kanaan and Aleshin made contact. Rounding out the top five were Andretti Autosport teammates Hunter-Reay and Sato, both of whom had dealt with crashes during the practices leading up to the race.
Bourdais' victory came after starting in last place and in his first race driving for Dale Coyne Racing since 2011. The win marked his 36th in American Open-Wheel Racing, breaking a tie between himself and Bobby Unser for sixth on the all-time wins list. For Bourdais, it was his first win since Detroit during the previous season. For Dale Coyne Racing, the win was the team's first since 2014, when Carlos Huertas took victory at the Houston street circuit.
|Pos||No.||Name||Grp.||Round 1||Round 2||Firestone Fast 6|
|1||12||Will Power W||1||1:01.0506||1:01.3176||1:01.0640|
|3||5||James Hinchcliffe W||1||1:01.2237||1:01.1891||1:01.3039|
|10||15||Graham Rahal W||2||1:01.5874||1:01.6181|
|16||3||Hélio Castroneves W||2||1:01.7159|
|18||19||Ed Jones R||2||1:01.7598|
|19||21||J. R. Hildebrand||1||1:01.8465|
|21||18||Sébastien Bourdais||2||No Time|
|OFFICIAL BOX SCORE|
Source for individual rounds:
Notes: 1 Points include 1 point for leading at least 1 lap during a race, an additional 2 points for leading the most race laps, and 1 point for Pole Position.
Source for time gaps:
Championship standings after the raceEdit
- Note: Only the top five positions are included.
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- Fryer, Jenna (March 12, 2017). "Bourdais wins IndyCar opener in St. Petersburg in major upset". Associated Press. St. Petersburg, Florida: AP Sports. Associated Press. Retrieved March 14, 2017.
- Ayello, Jim (March 12, 2017). "Insider: Sebastien Bourdais finds redemption on streets of St. Pete". The Indianapolis Star. St. Petersburg, Florida: Gannett Company. Retrieved March 14, 2017.
- Malsher, David (March 12, 2017). "St. Pete IndyCar: Bourdais wins season opener from back of the grid". Motorsport.com. St. Petersburg, Florida: Motorsport Network. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
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