Two practice sessions took place at COTA today ahead of IndyCar’s first race at the circuit this Sunday. Practice one was relatively slow on track with all drivers doing ten or fewer laps, but the second session of the day saw more people come out and run quality laps.
The third and final full length practice session has finished up at St. Pete and now teams will head out and qualify this afternoon. A few red flags came out this morning that took away some practice time, but every driver still got some solid time on the track on the black tires.
Both of Friday’s practice sessions for the season opener at St. Petersburg have finished up, which means we can take a closer look at the sector heatmaps from each of these sessions.
As a reminder the heatmaps show the percent above or below the field average a driver’s sector time is. Purple is above average (good) and red is below average.
St. Petersburg has had on average about four cautions per race since 2005, making it very likely we’ll see multiple caution flags waved on Sunday. Frequent cautions are a product of street courses, and St. Petersburg has some especially tight sections that make it prone to contact with the wall and other cars.
With St. Pete also the first race of the year after a long offseason, drivers are itching to get going and start off the season well when they are here (meaning they’re more likely to make dumb mistakes or be extra aggressive).