Richard Childress Racing driver Kevin Harvick and crew chief Gil Martin are both convinced that they wouldn’t have won last night’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway without the caution that came out with five laps remaining.
Harvick had moved into second place in the final laps but it looked like he’d be unable to reel in and pass Juan Pablo Montoya for the victory. However, a crash by Brian Vickers scuttled what appeared to be a sure win for Montoya, and after Harvick pitted for fresh tires with four laps to go, he raced from seventh on the green-white-checkered restart to his first win of 2013.
Still, both Harvick and Martin believed that if the race hadn’t gone into overtime, they would’ve been forced to settle for runner-up.
“I think I had a better shot to win starting seventh [on the final restart],” said Harvick. “I don’t think I was going to catch Montoya because he had a little bit better drive up off the corner at that point.”
Martin himself noted a tendency of cars on the move being unable to keep the momentum going once they got closer to the cars in front of them. For that reason, he indicated that it was Montoya’s race to lose — until Vickers’ accident changed everything.
“Within five car lengths of anybody, seems like the advantage you had went away or diminished as soon as you got close to them, then you would have to stay on them for several laps,” Martin said. “The laps were winding down so fast; Montoya was going to have to make a mistake for us to get by him at that point.”
Mercedes Formula 1 engine chief Andy Cowell has warned against underestimating the threat of Honda despite its ongoing power unit struggles, tipping the Japanese manufacturer to bounce back in the near future.
Honda returned to F1 as a manufacturer in 2015, supplying V6 turbo power units to the McLaren team, but has struggled for either performance or reliability through that period.
The struggles have led McLaren – currently sat bottom of the constructors’ championship – to consider cutting ties for 2018 given how far adrift compared to the other three engine suppliers Honda has been.
Mercedes has been the benchmark for engine performance since the change in regulation for 2014, but Cowell feels that Honda could make up ground quickly, with the removal of the token system for 2017 helping performance to converge through the field.
“I think collectively we’ve helped with convergence in Formula 1 in the opening season, performance development through the year,” Cowell said.
“But then the opportunity to do a big change with Honda coming in, we all agreed that Honda could have that same opportunity to change everything in the first year and then the request came from manufacturers in addition to Honda saying ‘please can we take this crazy token table away because it’s bad for the sport?’
“It’s bad if somebody can’t train to get better and so we agreed, yeah, take the table away because it’s better for the sport because it means that you can innovate, you can introduce whatever you like.
“I think none of us should underestimate the technical prowess of Honda and of McLaren and I think my money is on that combination coming good and coming good pretty quickly. No pressure…”
Williams is happy to “hold off” on making a decision on its Formula 1 driver line-up for 2018 as it focuses on improving its on-track displays after a tough start to the season.
Williams currently fields Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll, a mix of experience and youth, but has failed to keep up with midfield front-runner Force India through the first half of the year.
Force India sits fourth in the constructors’ championship with more than double the points of Williams, who leads a tight-knit group down to Renault in eighth place, 15 points adrift.
While Stroll looks set to continue with Williams and Massa has hinted he may look to continue through to 2018 despite initially planning to retire at the end of last season, deputy team boss Claire Williams has confirmed that no decision about next year’s line-up will come any time soon.
“There’s a lot of talk already isn’t there, about drivers across the paddock. For us, we’ve decided we’re going to hold off a bit on our driver decision,” Williams said.
“We’ve got a fight on our hands on the race track at the moment and to be distracted by those kinds of conversations isn’t something that we want to be happening at the moment.
“[Force India’s] got a nice points haul on us at the moment we need to focus on, rather than anything else.”
Rosberg was previously offered a scholarship to study engineering at Imperial College London when he was younger, only to turn it down in order to embark on a racing career. He also reportedly holds the highest ever score on Williams’ engineering aptitude test.
Should Nico sign up to a course at Stanford, we imagine he’d take things one class at a time…