Simon Pagenaud, Felix Rosenqvist fastest in calamitous IndyCar Toronto practice

Simon Pagenaud successfully avoided the turn 11 wall to post the fastest time in Friday practice for the Toronto Grand Prix.

The winner of Sunday’s Honda Grand Prix of Toronto IndyCar Series race will have to survive turn 11 … 85 times.

On Friday, during practice for the annual race on the Streets of Toronto, nearly a quarter of the field struggled to keep off the turn 11 wall in conditions that were trickier than previous years thanks to the addition of an epoxy sealant laid down on the final corner.

Several drivers slid off the section and into the outside retaining wall during the course of two one-hour practice sessions.

Will Power and Takuma Sato spun there during the opening minutes of the first practice session. Josef Newgarden then spun and slapped the wall. Takuma Sato did it again. Then Alexander Rossi clipped it during the middle stages of the second session.

Rossi also hit the turn nine wall in the closing minutes of the session.

The 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner said track conditions were indeed trickier but drivers need to often cross the line to know where they are in the first place.

That’s what practice is for.

“You don’t want to make these mistakes on Saturday or Sunday, so you can get a little bit more adventurous with your lines and experimentation to see if something works, and obviously I found a few things that didn’t work,” Rossi said. “Hopefully we don’t find any more.”

Simon Pagenaud posted the fastest lap of the afternoon over Felix Rosenqvist by 0.0603 seconds. Sébastien Bourdais ended the session third fastest with a lap time of 59.9866 seconds.

Unlike those who tried repeatedly to knock the wall down, the reigning Indianapolis 500 driver was having a blast on Friday.

“You have to decide if that’s a good choice to go in as solid as you think (you can) or if you should give some up,” Pagenaud said. “That’s what’s so much fun in qualifying here. You really have to put it down on the line and try as hard as you can.

“It’s a risky lap, but it’s also a lot of fun because you know that if you mess it up it’s going to be in the wall.”

Meanwhile, Rosenqvist showed the same pace that led him to two Indy Lights victories here in 2016. And like Pagenaud, he was having the time of his life in these slippery conditions.

“I think it’s hard to explain how bumpy these (U.S. street) circuits are,” he said. “Having done most of my racing career in Europe, I think I what I used to call bumpy is not even on the scale on a track like this. It’s not even visible. It’s such big bumps and surface changes.”

Despite twice hitting the wall, even Rossi expressed his appreciation for a street circuit like Toronto.

“This is what people want to see, right,” Rossi said. “We’re having to drive these things on the edge.”

No arguments from Rosenqvist.

“Yeah, it’s cool,” the Swedish driver said. “I think this is one of the most fun circuits. It’s hard to say why, but it’s just one with good flow. Yeah, it puts a smile on my face when (I) do a good lap.”

The complete combined results from Friday practice can be found below.

1. 22 Pagenaud, Simon D/C/F Practice 2 00:59.8708 107.391
2. 10 Rosenqvist, Felix (R) D/H/F Practice 2 00:59.9311 107.283
3. 18 Bourdais, Sébastien D/H/F Practice 2 00:59.9866 107.184
4. 21 Pigot, Spencer D/C/F Practice 2 01:00.0401 107.088
5. 9 Dixon, Scott D/H/F Practice 2 01:00.1445 106.903
6. 15 Rahal, Graham D/H/F Practice 2 01:00.4091 106.434
7. 98 Andretti, Marco D/H/F Practice 2 01:00.4435 106.374
8. 2 Newgarden, Josef D/C/F Practice 2 01:00.4509 106.361
9. 28 Hunter-Reay, Ryan D/H/F Practice 2 01:00.4696 106.328
10. 12 Power, Will D/C/F Practice 2 01:00.4981 106.278
11. 5 Hinchcliffe, James D/H/F Practice 2 01:00.6106 106.080
12. 88 Herta, Colton (R) D/H/F Practice 2 01:00.6756 105.967
13. 20 Jones, Ed D/C/F Practice 2 01:00.7419 105.851
14. 27 Rossi, Alexander D/H/F Practice 2 01:00.8161 105.722
15. 59 Chilton, Max D/C/F Practice 2 01:00.8572 105.651
16. 26 Veach, Zach D/H/F Practice 2 01:00.9907 105.419
17. 19 Ferrucci, Santino (R) D/H/F Practice 2 01:01.0845 105.25
18. 14 Kanaan, Tony D/C/F Practice 2 01:01.1068 105.219
19. 30 Sato, Takuma D/H/F Practice 2 01:01.3290 104.838
20. 4 Leist, Matheus D/C/F Practice 2 01:01.4316 104.663
21. 31 Karam, Sage D/C/F Practice 2 01:01.6066 104.365
22. 7 Ericsson, Marcus (R) D/H/F Practice 2 01:01.6437 104.303

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