There were no takers for the rain-curtailed second practice on the streets of St Petersburg ahead of this weekend's first race of the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series championship.

The green flag for the session came out after a 20-minute delay while the track had been dried off after earlier rain, but more showers meant that conditions soon worsened and none of the 24 drivers felt that the risk of damaging their race cars was worth coming out to play.

The race officials finally called it a day following 20 minutes of inactivity, the chequered flag signalling the end of all of the day's planned sessions.

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"We obviously couldn't make any progress in the afternoon session due to the rain, but looking forward to tomorrow," said Sebastien Bourdais. "Hopefully we will put it all together and have a good qualifying for the first race of the year.

"Unfortunately, because of the weather we didn't get out for the afternoon session," explained his KV Racing Technology team mate, series rookie Stefano Coletti.

"The weather report is good for tomorrow, so we will make some changes for the morning practice and hopefully that will give me a really good car for my first Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying session."

With no takers in the second session, it meant that Penske's Will Power finished the day with the fastest time ahead of his team mates Juan Pablo Montoya and Helio Castroneves who were in second and third ahead of Ganassi's Scott Dixon based on their times in the first 75-minute session held just after midday.

The fourth Penske driver Simon Pagenaud was ninth fastest in his first race weekend with the team following his off-season switch from Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

"Good testing and obviously Team Penske has definitely made ground over the winter over the other teams," said Power. "I think it's going to be a pretty interesting four-way battle amongst the team and Scott Dixon is right in there as well. I expect those five to be the championship contenders.

The times are already looking faster than last year, with the top five already ahead of last year's pole-winning lap time. Nine of the top 12 cars in Friday's sole practice were from the Chevrolet side of the garage.

"I think we rolled off pretty good with all four cars," said Power, who ascribed the marque's dominance to both the engine performance and also to the new bespoke aerodynamic bodywork components that Chevrolet have designed for their teams which are making their race d?but this weekend at St Peterburg.

"I think it's both," Power said when asked which aspect was making the biggest difference in performance over the Honda stable. "I think they're better with the engine and the aero right now. It's hard to say which is more. I think they did a very good job with the aero kit, Chevy did."

As one of the Honda runners, reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Ryan Hunter-Reay finished the day's practice down the standings in 14th place.

"Racing, first of all, is all about innovation and development and that's what we have with the aero kits," he said. "The engine manufacturers have been tasked to put on as much downforce as efficiently as possible, and what you see is a complete transformation of this Indy car where Chevy has its own look and brand and Honda has its own look and brand and stamp on the car.

"The performance is up, track records will be broken this year, and they look like you need to wear protective gloves around them, so they look awesome," Hunter-Reay added. "They look like they should, which is incredibly fast and somewhat scary."

Having a better time of it was former F1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya, now in his sophomore year at Penske alongside Power, Castroneves and Pagenaud.

"It's fun for me, second year back and I feel a lot better than last year," said the Colombian. "I think we have gained a lot over the winter with the car and I think it made a lot of difference.

"Last year was a tough year for us at the beginning," he admitted, recalling his return to open-wheel racing 12 months ago after seven years racing in NASCAR. "We knew that. Normally I'm really good at remembering everything about every track and last year I think this was such a blur for me. I was so overwhelmed with everything that I didn't really pay too much attention to details."

Not so this year: "I felt really good straight away that all of the work we did over the winter with the car made me really, really happy," he said. "I'm really comfortable with the car.

"Each engineer knows what their driver wants and it seems each one is doing his own thing," he continued when asked how the new four-car line-up was working in 2015 with the addition of Pagenaud. "We have the data there, we have all the information. If somebody makes a change that works, we all know about it.

"We all drive so different. It's not so much the driving, it's the feeling that we want out of the car is so different. You look at us driving, it looks pretty similar but what we want the feel to be is very different. To get that feel, we achieve it in very different ways," he explained.

The Penske contingent are clearly feeling optimistic ahead of the curtain raiser for the 2015 season, the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg around the 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street circuit in Florida.

The drivers will have another chance for practice in a 45-minute session just after midday on Saturday, with qualifying scheduled for 4.15pm local time. A final half hour warm-up session on Sunday morning precedes the race itself which gets the green flag at 3.30pm local time (8.30pm BST).

Full practice 1 times from St Petersburg