BALTIMORE (Friday, August 30, 2013) - Tristan Vautier has certainly made himself at home on the Streets of Baltimore.
Vautier, who has won at Baltimore in the Pro Mazda Championship and Firestone Indy Lights in the last two years, paced the opening practice day for the Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT.
The Frenchman turned a fast lap of 1 minute, 19.4792 seconds on the 2.04-mile, 12-turn street circuit in the No. 55 Environmental Rail Solutions Schmidt Peterson Motorsports car.
Eight different teams were represented in the top 10 and the top 13 cars were separated by less than a second as drivers and engineers attempted to get a handle on the technically challenging circuit that incorporates Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Twenty-four drivers logged 638 laps through the 90 minutes of track availability without incident.
Graham Rahal, driving the No. 15 blu eCigs car for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, was .0838 of a second behind Vautier. Josef Newgarden (1:19.6662) was third in the No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing car.
Scott Dixon, who is 39 points behind the front-running Helio Castroneves in the championship chase, was fourth fast (1:19.7027) in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car. Castroneves was 13th in the afternoon session.
Jack Hawksworth, who has won two of the three Firestone Indy Lights street course races this season, paced the initial practice for the 35-lap Grand Prix of Baltimore on Sept. 1.
Hawksworth, driving the No. 77 Schmidt Peterson with Curb Agajanian car, posted a fast lap of 1 minute, 25.6896 seconds on the 2.04-mile, 12-turn temporary street circuit. Carlos Munoz, who enters the race with a 15-point lead over Gabby Chaves in the championship, was .5448 of a second back in the No. 26 Dialy-Ser car for Andretti Autosport.
INDYCAR officials have added point-of-reference "courtesy zones" to the outside edges of each pit box to aid in monitoring pit stop conduct and etiquette in the Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT. The courtesy zones are defined by 45-degree dotted lines as part of the painted pit boxes.
INDYCAR added rule 7.9.17 to the IZOD IndyCar Series rulebook to reinforce its pit stop code of conduct: Any participant who, in the opinion of the officials, positions a car, equipment, and/or personnel so as to create a hazard or disruption of the event or to interfere with the activities of another competitor may be penalized.
The lines will remain part of pit boxes defined by paint for the three races left in the IZOD IndyCar Series season.
INDYCAR also amended its rule regarding display of the blue flag, which calls for a driver to give consideration to an approaching car attempting to overtake.
Rule 184.108.40.206: When displayed from the starters stand to a lapped car, as ordered directly by the Race Director, the blue flag is a command to immediately give way. During the race, any car failing to give way within one lap of the display of the blue flag from the starters stand will be penalized.