The first practice session for the IZOD IndyCar Series' Baltimore GP was brought to an early end due to safety concerns over bumps on the track.
Several drivers were launched completely airborne when they tried to navigate a bump just before the railway line that crosses the start/finish straight, prompting the series to end the session 25 minutes early to discuss possible solutions with the drivers.
A chicane that was located at the affected area of the circuit last year was removed for this year's race. However, after initially announcing that a temporary chicane would be installed in time for the second practice session, it has opted to grind a section of the Pratt Street main straightaway to remove lip in the pavement. The work was scheduled to be completed in time for the 2:45 p.m. ET session on the 2.04-mile, 12-turn street circuit under the direction of Tony Cotman, president of NZR Consulting, whose company has overseen the track build.
"We had talked about a temporary (tire barrier) chicane and something more permanent as a solution, but those have been put aside if this grinding program works," IZOD IndyCar Series Race Director Beaux Barfield said.
Removal of the chicane, widening of the right-hand Turn 1 and reshaping Turns 5-6 (also pit entrance) were alterations to the circuit under the supervision of Tony Cotman of NZR Consulting.
“Last year, I know there were some unofficial tests performed (on the front straight)," Barfield said. "When drivers had some clear laps, they sent them straight through the (Pratt Street) chicane. The feedback from the few drivers who tried that was we should come back without the chicane. That's what happened, and immediately after letting cars on track (today), we saw that it wasn't doable.
"It's a shame because based on the feedback we got last year, and the effort the promoter has made, it was the right direction to go."
Marco Andretti was fastest at the time the session was ended with a best lap of 1m21.3343s, leaving him 0.3 second clear of Rubens Barrichello.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap
1. Marco Andretti Andretti Dallara-Chevy 1m21.0211s
2. Rubens Barrichello KV Dallara-Chevy 1m21.4021s + 0.3810s
3. James Hinchcliffe Andretti Dallara-Chevy 1m21.7899s + 0.7688s
4. EJ Viso KV Dallara-Chevy 1m22.0750s + 1.0539s
5. Simona de Silvestro HVM Dallara-Lotus 1m22.1513s + 1.1302s
6. Tony Kanaan KV Dallara-Chevy 1m22.2887s + 1.2676s
7. Helio Castroneves Penske Dallara-Chevy 1m22.5067s + 1.4856s
8. Will Power Penske Dallara-Chevy 1m22.5865s + 1.5654s
9. Justin Wilson Coyne Dallara-Honda 1m22.7523s + 1.7312s
10. JR Hildebrand Panther Dallara-Chevy 1m22.8168s + 1.7957s
11. James Jakes Coyne Dallara-Honda 1m22.9510s + 1.9299s
12. Dario Franchitti Ganassi Dallara-Honda 1m23.0164s + 1.9953s
13. Takuma Sato Rahal Dallara-Honda 1m23.0918s + 2.0707s
14. Oriol Servia Panther/DRR Dallara-Chevy 1m23.1186s + 2.0975s
15. Simon Pagenaud Schmidt Dallara-Honda 1m24.2342s + 3.2131s
16. Ryan Briscoe Penske Dallara-Chevy 1m24.3858s + 3.3647s
17. Mike Conway Foyt Dallara-Honda 1m24.7700s + 3.7489s
18. Ed Carpenter Carpenter Dallara-Chevy 1m25.3753s + 4.3542s
19. Bruno Junqueira Fisher Dallara-Honda 1m27.3063s + 6.2852s
20. Scott Dixon Ganassi Dallara-Honda
21. Graham Rahal Ganassi Dallara-Honda
22. Alex Tagliani Herta Dallara-Honda
23. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Dallara-Chevy
24. Charlie Kimball Ganassi Dallara-Honda