NTT IndyCar Series rookie Felix Rosenqvist kicked off his season in style by leading the first practice session at St. Petersburg. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver also earned the distinction of setting the only lap (1m01.8215s) below the 1m2s mark.
The Swede’s No. 10 Honda led a top six filled with cars representing the Japanese brand as Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay (+0.2421s), fellow Swedish rookie Marcus Ericsson from Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (+0.2596s), Ganassi’s Scott Dixon (+0.3094s), Andretti’s Alexander Rossi (+0.3255s), and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Takuma Sato (+0.3356s) were in a tight bunch well behind the 27-year-old.
Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden (+0.3525s) was first among the Chevy representatives.
The 45-minute session featured minimal drama until Dale Coyne Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais had his car snap sideways in Turn 11 and spun through Turn 12, lightly clipping the wall with one corner. The back-to-back event winner was able to continue after a pit stop to check his Honda-powered entry, and he managed to set the 11th-fastest lap toward the end of the session.
DragonSpeed’s Ben Hanley, making his IndyCar debut, completed 13 laps without trouble, but stalled on the course with his Chevy-powered machine on the 14th, which coincided with the checkered flag.
UP NEXT: Free Practice 2, 2:20-3:05 p.m. ET