Qualifying Report: Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey
MONTEREY, Calif. (Sept. 9, 2023) -- Today Santino Ferrucci matched his best qualifying performance on a road course since Road America in June when he qualified 11th in the No. 14 Sexton Properties Chevrolet at WeatherTech Raceway Lagune Seca.
The performance was a true team effort as the crew led by Didier Francesia had to change the engine after Ferrucci stopped on track in practice less than three hours before. The result of that unscheduled engine change is that Ferrucci incurred a six-position grid penalty so he will start 17th tomorrow.
Ferrucci's time of 1 minute, 7.4479 seconds (119.452 mph) is the quickest he has run all weekend.
“It’s honestly been a great weekend so far to start. Obviously, we qualified P11 after a motor change, no install, really rushing and pushing, so it is really impressive from the team’s side and yeah just kind of rewarding to qualify 11th. Probably could have gotten to tenth or ninth if I had just put in the perfect lap but we still have got to work away at it. We’re still missing something on the reds [Firestone's alternate compound tire], but we definitely learned something from session one to session two from the team side. But we’ll see what we can do from the race starting 17th.
Ferrucci. Eye of the tiger.
“I think we're better on the primary tires so that’s probably where we'll live. It’s hard to pass, so you’re kind of banking on people to make mistakes. It’s also the final race of the season so for sure, people are going to crash trying to pass. Just have to stay clean and try and bring home a top-10 or top-15. If we’re lucky and play our cards right, a top-10.”
Benjamin Pedersen will start 23rd, an improvement over recent qualifying attempts, but he anticipated a stronger run. His lap time of 1 minute, 7.7583 seconds (118.905 mph) was the quickest of the weekend for him.
“We’ll be rolling off P23. We lost a bit of relative pace compared to practice so we’re going to look into that as to why that was," Pedersen said, adding, "But both cars will be starting pretty close to each other so looking to finish the year as strong as possible and go forward. It looks like it’s pretty challenging to pass so it will be interesting with strategy what we can come up with, but we’ll be definitely giving it everything we have tomorrow to finish the season strong.
Pedersen. Focused forward.
Asked what makes passing even more difficult with the repaving of the 11-turn, 2.238-mile road course track, he explained, “I think it’s the nature of the track especially now with the new pavement and how much faster the cars are going. That makes it even harder to follow closely so I think it will be really interesting. I don’t think the tire deg [degradation] is going to be bad either so I think for everyone it's going to be a matter of not making any mistakes in the race.”
Felix Rosenqvist edged out Scott McLaughlin with his pole-winning lap time of 1 minute, 6.6416 seconds (120.897 mph) to McLaughlin's 1 minute, 6.6513 seconds (120.880 mph). It was Rosenqvist's second NTT P-1 Award this season and fifth of his career.
Rounding out the Firestone Fast 6 were: Christian Lundgaard, Josef Newgarden, Scott Dixon, and Alex Palou. The Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey will be broadcast live on NBC tomorrow starting at 2:30 p.m. ET preceded by a 30-minute warm-up at 12 noon ET which will be streamed on Peacock.