With the exception of Joseph Newgarden – today’s frontrunner by a huge margin – the ace completed three races at last year’s 95-lap Firestone Grand Prix in Monterey. But this year’s replacement [softer composite] Firestone tires have more grip but degrade faster.
Team Penske-Chevrolet championship leader Will Ball said he thinks the tires on the track are a bit tough this year because the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship wasn’t held here the week before as it was in 2021, so Rubber is reduced.
Although he said he thought the tires degraded “similar to now” he agreed Sunday’s race could be four races.
“Yeah, it’s definitely It’s possible, there’s enough degradation,” he said. “We’re going to have to see in the warm-up when you’re really running full…but yeah. “
Power regrets the fact that the team didn’t get more tires.
“We’ve asked, we’ve been asking,” he shrugged. “If they had given us more tires, we would have run, but they didn’t … we tried. We tried it a month ago. They just don’t do it. “
Despite being four-tenths of a second faster, Newgarden described it as “a tricky race” as there were a few stops and wheels dropped on the curb.
“There were a lot of people running and there was a lot of dirt on the track so it was hard to put it together,” said the 2017 and ’19 champion. “So not a very easy session .
“But I think it’s been very productive in a lot of ways. It’s not a lot of runs, you try to make the most of a few runs and I think we did it, so I’m happy. But for us and Hitachi It’s obviously early in the weekend in terms of cars.”
Third Penske driver Scott McLaughlin said he felt that Laguna Seca would re-emerge in two months’ time. “Low key sad” .
“Obviously I think the pace will pick up, but it’s going to be fun, like when it resurfaces and we get here because places like this change over time degraded over time,” said the New Zealander, who has three victories in his second IndyCar season. “Outside of our series, there’s a lot of racing on this track, so I think it all depends on when people run and how many people run here, but I think it’s definitely better in some ways.”
“[But] I really like the way you drive. I’m kind of low-key and sad they’ll reappear because it’s fun and you really have to think about the spacing of the car and what you’re doing with the car and so on.
“Yes, that’s it, resurfacing is good for the life of the track, but I want to keep running on the old stuff.”
Previous Formula One driver Marcus Ericsson said the race could be in his favor given his experience driving refined Pirelli cars in Grand Prix races.
“Yeah, I hope it’s going to be a height game, it seems like that,” he said with a laugh. “In my experience, usually our team and myself are good at this. Yes, the tires here seem to degrade very quickly. It was the same in testing, and it is the same in practice today…
“I think you have to think about it and figure out a way to get the length of time you plan on. I think this will be very tricky. Also depends on the weather. It appears to be coming in cooler weather, which might change things and give the tires a little better life.
“But at least from what I’ve seen today, I think it’s going to be quite a tricky game for all of us, with people left, right, center Deviating, there’s sand on the track, lap after lap, it’s tricky to stay on the track because it’s very challenging there.”