Graham Rahal excited for fresh start with family team

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Graham Rahal is ready to write a new chapter in his career.

Rahal will be driving for his father, 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal, at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing following a two-year run with Chip Ganassi Racing in which he went winless over 32 starts. But the Ohio native believes that his time in the Ganassi camp was still well-spent, and will prove valuable as he goes forward with RLL.

“Frankly, I don’t look at [my time with Ganassi] and say it was a complete failure,” Rahal said today in a media teleconference. “I think there were a lot of different things thrown our way and challenges that we didn’t think we would face going in there. Long story short, you learn from all these things.

“Every place I’ve ever gone, every team I’ve ever driven for, you learn through not only the way that they operate, the way that the engineers work, the mechanics…You learn about the business and how you want the car set up – I can tell you a Ganassi car was very different from the way I would’ve driven a Newman-Haas car in my past – but you figure those things out when you come and you learn the different styles. As a driver, my job is to write that down, try to remember it and carry it on to every other team that I may come across.”

This will be Rahal’s first full-time season with RLL (he drove for them in the 2010 Indianapolis 500), and the relaxed atmosphere at the team has him at ease going into 2013. He also believes that embarking on a full-time partnership with his father was destined to occur at some point.

“We’d been saying for a long time that this would eventually happen,” he said. “It was just really a matter of when, if and how. For us, we’ve always talked about it since I was a kid starting racing, but as many people know, Dad and I were very outspoken about having to earn it on your own and being out and competing for other teams, which is what I’ve done.

“However, at some point, everybody has to realize what’s in the best interests of myself as a driver, our family and of course, the team and our sponsors. It’s exciting for us to be together, and I’m looking forward to [the next three seasons with RLL] more than any seasons of my career.”

RLL returned to full-time competition in 2012 with Takuma Sato (now with A.J. Foyt Racing) behind the wheel and managed to collect two podiums at Sao Paulo and Edmonton. But it’s clear that the team wants more this coming season, and a refreshed Graham Rahal could be the key to it all.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.