Chevrolet delivers first blow to Honda

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2012 IndyCar engine champion Chevrolet picked up where they left off in today’s season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

James Hinchcliffe led the Bowtie Brigade with his inaugural IndyCar victory, and fellow Chevy campers Helio Castroneves and Marco Andretti joined him on the podium (pictured). Tony Kanaan’s fourth-place effort created a 1-2-3-4 sweep for the American manufacturer.

“Preparing for the 2013 IndyCar season has been a team effort with all the Chevrolet teams,” said Jim Campbell, U.S. vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports for Chevy. “It is a long season, but this is a solid way to start.”

After being unable to fully match Chevy’s pace over the weekend, Honda had appeared ready to fight back by putting eight of their drivers in the top 10 during the pre-race warmup session. But when the checkered flag flew on Sunday, only one of their men — Scott Dixon — cracked the Top 5. Honda did get eighth, ninth, and tenth place efforts respectively from Takuma Sato, Justin Wilson, and Alex Tagliani.

Honda Performance Development president Art St. Cyr vowed that things would get better for his side and also hailed Dixon and Sato for their efforts.

“Obviously, it was a disappointing start to our IndyCar season, but we will learn from this and everyone at Honda Performance Development will work, together with our teams, to get back to the top of the podium,” he said. “Congratulations to Scott Dixon for an inspiring drive in today’s race, and to Takuma Sato and the A.J. Foyt team for their weekend-long performance. They have certainly stepped up a level this season, and that is encouraging.”

F1 2017 driver review: Carlos Sainz Jr.

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Carlos Sainz Jr.

Teams: Scuderia Toro Rosso (1-16), Renault (17-20)
Car No.: 33
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P4 (Singapore)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 54
Championship Position: 9th

Carlos Sainz Jr. has always been compared to Max Verstappen given their relative rise and stint together at Toro Rosso, but the Spaniard began to forge his own impressive path through 2017, securing himself a works drive with Renault in the process.

Alongside the struggling Daniil Kvyat for much of the season, Sainz led Toro Rosso’s charge, scoring 48 of its 53 points with a string of impressive drives. His headline moment came in Singapore when he matched Verstappen’s best result in Toro Rosso colors by finishing fourth, capitalizing on the start-line crash and the wet weather with a strong display.

Sainz’s displays led to a call from Renault, who announced just two days before his star display in Singapore he would be joining up for 2018 on loan from Red Bull. However, the deal was accelerated after a deal was brokered to secure Jolyon Palmer’s departure, allowing Sainz to join up from the United States GP onwards.

Sainz made an immediate impression, completing a perfect race en route to seventh on debut for Renault to secure six points that would prove crucial in the final constructors’ championship standings as the French team beat Toro Rosso to P6 in the standings at the last race of the year.

Red Bull retains an option on Sainz’s future beyond 2018, making him a candidate for a seat with its senior team should Daniel Ricciardo opt to leave. Failing that, Renault could offer Sainz the platform he needs to continue his rapid rise in F1 and establish himself at the front of the pack for many years to come.

Season High: Finishing fourth in Singapore after dodging the start-line drama.

Season Low: Crashing out in his final Toro Rosso appearance on the first lap at Suzuka.