What a week it’s been in motorsport! Since we left you last the winner of the IndyCar race in Houston was found to have an illegal part on his car – one that the series says didn’t affect the result – and also saw a prodigal son claim his first win in over a decade. NASCAR was rain-ravaged and ultimately delayed. Formula 1 was embroiled in a furor over standing starts after a safety car and V8 Supercars saw perhaps the wildest opening laps in the category’s history.
And so, fellow motorsports fans, there is much news and many potential black flags to issue. So I’ll need your help.
First, Formula 1 has decided that from 2015 onwards after safety car periods the restart will be a standing grid start – not a single file rolling start. The reason? More “excitement” – or to put it another way “more crashes!” Understandable that some people are concerned by the plan.
Nobody was talking about that by the time the second lap of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone began though. Kimi Raikkonen had a monster shunt on lap one, bruising his legs and taking out Felipe Massa as he bounced back across the track. That caused a one-hour red flag as the guardrail was replaced. In the end Lewis Hamilton won over a hard-charging Valterie Bottas and Aussie Daniel Ricciardo. Hamilton’s teammate and title rival Nico Rosberg had started from pole and was leading when his gearbox lunched itself – ending his race, allowing Hamilton to gain 25 points on Rosberg and close to within 4 points in the championship.
Rosberg’s pole came late in a rain-hit session where many drivers gambled on slicks. All the time was made up in third sector, but Hamilton didn’t know that. After not gaining time in the first and second sectors he aborted his lap and pitted – Rosberg and several others pressed on and made ground in the dry third sector. The lapse of judgement meant Hamilton started sixth.
There was no lapse of judgement for Juan Pablo Montoya during the IndyCar Pocono 500. The former CART world champion and seven-time Formula 1 race winner claimed his first open-wheel race victory since the year 2000 and first race victory since his NASCAR win at Watkins Glen in 2010. It came after Tony Kanaan made a strategy error and Will Power received yet another drive-through penalty – this time for blocking on track.
While Montoya’s win was without controversy, not so that of Carlos Huertas from last week. Post-race inspection revealed an over-size fuel tank in Huertas’s car, and despite him having won on a fuel-economy gamble IndyCar said the transgression had no bearing on the result. They issued the team a fine but the result still stands. It was the second time Dale Coyne Racing had such a controversy – Justin Wilson won an oval race at Texas – a track where aero is critical – with an illegal aero component on the car. IndyCar let him keep that win too.
Mother Nature must hate NASCAR right now. First, an ultra-sudden pop-up shower caused a 16-car crash in Nationwide series qualifying, then the Daytona 400 was rained off until Sunday. That wasn’t all though, rain caused delays, red flags and yellow flags during the race.
But the multi-car crashes that came during the Sprint Cup race weren’t caused by the weather – they were simply a product of close-quarters pack racing on the high-speed oval. The first just 20 laps in involved 16 cars, a second later in the race damaged 22. The crashes took on an almost comical atmosphere when Kyle Busch was flipped on his lid by one final, clumsy impact during the second of the big pile-ups. Scratch that, it was completely comical. Mostly because Kyle Busch when asked “are you okay?” responded, “Having a good old time, just hanging around”.
Luckily nobody was hurt, and Aric Almirola claimed his first win when the race was called due to weather once again.
V8 Supercars were racing in the far north of Australia and the heat definitely got to the sport’s biggest stars. Lap one of race one of the weekend saw plenty of biff and barge as Craig Lowndes tangled with the two Holden Racing Team Commodores of James Courtney and Garth Tander before ultimately spinning into the wall. The aggression shown by the frontrunners on lap one around the concrete-lined street course was unnecessary to say the least.
Lowndes was sent back out into the race after a few lap’s worth of repairs, but the team hadn’t quite finished the job and he found himself buried in a tire wall soon after rejoining. The carnage allowed Jamie Whincup to take the win in the only undamaged car on the track ahead of Courtney and Fabian Coulthard.
Garth Tander claimed race two – his first win of the season – with Courtney and Coulthard again second and third. The third and final race of the weekend saw Whincup again victorious with Tander second and Shane van Gisbergen third. Mechanical issues for Lowndes coupled with his DNF in race one saw him drop to sixth in the championship. Mark Winterbottom still leads but Whincup has closed to within 96 points.