Ganassi trio makes strides in Barber

Leave a comment

Rare are the words “Chip Ganassi Racing” and “struggling” used in the same sentence, but that was their story two weeks ago at St. Petersburg.

Flash forward to Barber and with Honda’s improvements and running on Firestone’s road course rather than street course tires, all three of the CGR cars made strides even though the final timesheets didn’t reflect it.

Scott Dixon ended sixth while Dario Franchitti and Charlie Kimball fell off from practice one to two. Still, they explained the positive developments made going into Saturday’s qualifying.

“We worked on the overall balance of the car and we still have some work to do,” said Dixon, the lone Target-liveried driver this weekend. “I feel pretty good about qualifying because we didn’t even use new tires and we left a lot of speed out on the table. We should be in good shape for tomorrow.”

Franchitti and Kimball are running near identical liveries this weekend – each in orange and blue colors. Franchitti’s in a Banana Boat paint scheme while Kimball’s usual Novo Nordisk colors have been inverted as part of a team-wide “Race with Insulin” weekend awareness promotion.

“We made a massive amount of changes throughout the day to the Banana Boat car,” said Franchitti. “We have a very clear direction on where we want to go.  Hopefully we can make good use of that tomorrow.”

“We had the fourth-quickest time in practice one this morning and then in practice two we got caught up with some yellows and some traffic,” added Kimball. “We have a couple different directions, with the car set-up, to go over tonight.  I’ll think we’ll be in good shape when it comes time to qualify tomorrow morning.”

F1 2017 driver review: Nico Hulkenberg

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Nico Hulkenberg

Team: Renault
Car No.: 27
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P6 (Spain, Great Britain, Belgium, Abu Dhabi)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 43
Championship Position: 10th

Expectations were hard to peg for Renault heading into its second full season back in F1 with a factory team, but Nico Hulkenberg was surely expected to be the man spearheading its charge.

With teammate Jolyon Palmer severely underperforming, Hulkenberg did exactly that, bringing home all but 14 of the team’s points in the final standings. However, consistency was never something he truly found.

Many of Renault’s issues were down to reliability issues, sidelining Hulkenberg for six races – four coming in a five-race stint from Singapore to Mexico – yet he only scored points in consecutive races on three occasions.

When Hulkenberg and Renault were on form, they proved to be a potent combination, often topping the midfield fight and even looking faster than Force India come the end of the season. His run to sixth at the final race in Abu Dhabi was crucial for the constructors’ championship as Renault jumped Toro Rosso, securing an extra slice of prize money in the process.

But for a driver who was so often tipped as being a future star in F1, Hulkenberg still has a lot to prove. Renault is set to offer a good platform for the German moving forward with factory support, yet if he cannot beat new teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. through 2018, concerns will surely be raised.

Season High: Charging to sixth in Abu Dhabi despite a penalty.

Season Low: A tough run to 16th in Malaysia.