IndyCar Driver Preview: Graham Rahal

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#15 Graham Rahal

  • Team: Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
  • Engine: Honda
  • Sponsors: Midas
  • 2012: 10th Place, 1 Podium

2012 WRAP: Expectations were high as young Rahal surged towards the end of 2011 in the Service Central Ganassi camp. Yet they were never fully maximized throughout his second season in the team. Qualifying left a lot to be desired – Rahal didn’t once make the Firestone Fast Six – and that left him playing catch-up during the races. Rahal lost a sure win at Texas when he bounced off the wall with two laps to go, and he only had three other top-five finishes.

2013 OUTLOOK: It was inevitable that Graham would eventually join his father Bobby’s team on a full-time basis. But to the now 24-year-old’s credit, he’s already gathered six seasons of experience with other teams before joining the family business. He knows what makes a successful organization and the foundation established where he’s the clear team leader, with a solid engineering group, should help both father and son as they embark on the 2013 campaign. I’d expect Rahal to win his first race since 2008, as a 19-year-old in St. Petersburg. 

Brown: Dennis would have made same decision on McLaren-Honda split

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Zak Brown believes former McLaren team boss Ron Dennis would have made the same decision to cut ties with struggling Formula 1 engine partner Honda had he still been in charge at the team in 2017.

McLaren executive director Brown helped engineer a deal for the team to split with Honda at the end of the 2017 season after three tough seasons that had seen the Japanese manufacturer offer little in the way of performance or reliability.

The decision split opinion, with McLaren spurning a significant annual financial injection from Honda in order to link up with Renault, believing its on-track fortunes had to be prioritized over its commercial interests.

In an interview with Sky Sports, Brown was asked if he believed Dennis – McLaren’s long-running team chief before stepping down at the end of 2016 – would have made the same decision to cut ties with Honda.

“I think he would have,” Brown said.

“He was here when those conversations were ongoing and I think Ron always has and always will have the best interests of McLaren in his heart.

“He is Mr. McLaren. It burns him inside as much as us not to see us winning races.”

Brown also elaborated on the decision to break off the much-lauded relationship with Honda, saying the first signs of trouble with the 2017 power unit were clear in pre-season.

After a number of attempts to try and rectify the situation, Brown and his fellow team bosses felt there was no alternative but to end the Honda deal for 2018.

“We knew we were in trouble in testing in Barcelona and we worked really hard for six months to try and find solutions that would give us confidence that we’d be much more competitive in 2018,” Brown said.

“Ultimately, after trying many different things and many different ways we felt we couldn’t get there.

“Three years is a long time in Formula 1 and so we needed to change the direction to get our team back at the top.”