Helio and Dario both fall short of fourth Indy win

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Today’s Indianapolis 500 was the first in over 25 years that saw two three-time winners of the great race – Helio Castroneves and Dario Franchitti – go after a fourth victory at the Brickyard.

But neither of them were able to claim the prize and for another year, the four-win club only has A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears and Al Unser as esteemed members.

Even though he stayed toward the front all afternoon, Castroneves only led once for one lap and finished sixth. However, he chose to look at the bigger picture, which involved him maintaining third place in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship behind new points leader Marco Andretti and Takuma Sato (who recovered from an early spin to finish 13th).

“I was just having issues with the [rev] limiter,” said Castroneves. “I was trying to pass a lot of people, but unfortunately, it was hitting the limiter. That was one of those things…We finished top six, which is great championship-wise for points, and that is what we are looking for as well. When you don’t win, you have to look on the positive side, and that is the championship.”

But Castroneves did indeed have a decent day, which is more than can be said for Franchitti. The Scotsman never found the front of the field and ended his day with a crash on Lap 197 shortly after the final restart of the day. That crash would close the race under yellow with Tony Kanaan taking the win.

“Our car was never really good all day,” said Franchitti, who was credited with 23rd place. “In traffic, we couldn’t make anything happen. It was loose in the middle – big understeer. The guys tried something, and we didn’t take tires. I was just going backward, sliding around on those old tires. I went into the first corner on the last restart, and it just didn’t turn and then the hit. The big, old hit.”

Kanaan’s triumph was the only highlight of an otherwise sub-par Sunday for Franchitti, who, like Castroneves, counts the KV Racing Technology driver as one of his good friends.

“When I saw who was leading, it cheered me up a little bit,” he said. “Great, just phenomenal that Tony won. We had a crap day. We were never in contention, but I’m just so happy he won. He’s a very, very deserving winner.”

F1 2017 driver review: Sergio Perez

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Sergio Perez

Team: Sahara Force India
Car No.: 11
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P4 (Spain)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 1
Points: 100
Championship Position: 7th

While failing to hit the podium as he did in both 2015 and 2016, Sergio Perez once again finished the year as Formula 1’s leading midfield team driver, but faced a greater fight from within Force India in the shape of Esteban Ocon.

Perez has long been knocking on the door of F1’s top teams should an opportunity come up, and 2017 saw him continue his solid if unspectacular form. The dominance of Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari meant any finish higher than seventh was impressive, something he managed to do on five occasions.

But there were some missed opportunities along the way, most significantly in Baku. Force India had been quick all weekend, with Perez charging to sixth on the grid, and when drama struck at the front, he and teammate Ocon were eyeing a podium finish as a minimum.

Contact between the two forced Perez to retire and prompted Ocon to pit for repairs, leaving the team without the top-three finish it targeted heading into the season. With Lance Stroll taking P3 for Williams and Daniel Ricciardo winning the race, a maiden victory for Force India was not out of the realm of imagination.

Perez and Ocon came to blows on a number of occasions, with the final straw coming in Spa when they twice touched on-track, prompting Force India to introduce team orders. Perez finished the year 13 points clear of Ocon in the final standings, meeting his own pre-season target of 100 points, yet the Frenchman had arguably made the bigger impression at Force India through his first full season in F1.

Force India remains the top underdog in F1 with Perez spearheading its charge, but it is difficult to see either taking the final step to becoming true contenders at the front of the field anytime soon, as solid as their displays have been.

Season High: P4 in Spain after retirements for the ‘big three’.

Season Low: Losing a sure-fire podium, if not a win, in Baku after contact with Ocon.