Indy rookie Jean Alesi and Simona de Silvestro are the only two drivers attempting to qualify with a Lotus engine and they have consistently been the two slowest cars all week. Alesi, who made 201 career starts in Formula One, couldn't even pass the final phase of his rookie test until series officials gave him a boost of 40-50 horsepower Monday. That allowed him to finally run sustained laps at 210 mph or more.
Without the boost, Alesi posted a fast lap of just 205.389 mph on Wednesday -- more than 17 mph behind the day's top speed of 222.785. De Silvestro's best lap was 205.009.
Alesi even said he felt "unsafe" and was "concerned" for the other drivers because he was "quite slow in the middle of the track."
They were only slightly better Thursday. Alesi's top speed was 207.489, while de Silvestro went 205.690.
IndyCar officials say they're "monitoring" the situation, seven months after two-time Indy winner Dan Wheldon was killed in a horrific crash at Las Vegas.
"I can sympathize with the situation," John Judd, the IndyCar engine project manager for Lotus, said Wednesday. "I can only comment on what I know about the engine, and we do have some work to do, for sure. I think we would all benefit from more testing."
Penske and his drivers did not discuss any safety concerns. Instead, the Dragon Racing team remained focused on trying to find an engine and a strategy that would make the team more competitive on race day.
"We're not even worried about qualifying," Legge said. "If we just get it in the field, we'll get ready for the race. Realistically, we've not had too much time in the car, just like all year, and we're coming in here with really no testing."
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