Team Target Ganassi pressing on through trying days

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With Team Penske breaking through at Texas and Will Power scoring his first podium of 2013 at Milwaukee, the onus is now back on Target Chip Ganassi Racing to deliver the results it’s been accustomed to in the IZOD IndyCar Series: winning.

It was another tough day at the office for Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti Saturday at the Milwaukee Mile, despite both drivers recording top 10 finishes in the same race for only the third time in nine races this year.

Dixon has done the best job of performing damage limitation despite never quite having the setup on his No. 9 Target Honda. He related after Milwaukee, when he finished sixth and never ran in the top five, that there’s still much more work to be done.

“I think we went down a road earlier in the year and now we’re just trying to regroup and find our way,” he said after the race. “Maybe we’re lacking confidence in our changes with the car but we’ll work hard and get better. We had a good day but went back and forth on some things. We had understeer in the middle of the corner and the car snapped coming off. We had a bit better car then we showed. I got ran wide on the restart by (Tony) Kanaan and didn’t quite agree with it but then again what can you do.”

Franchitti recovered to eighth place after starting 23rd thanks to an engine change. With the field as close as it is, it’s difficult for teams with such a good amount of engineering and crew talent to have their strengths highlighted if the setup isn’t quite there. It’s not as though Franchitti’s forgotten how to drive or engineer Chris Simmons has lost his magic touch. Still, the way the series has evolved this year was an interesting point Franchitti raised in his post-race quotes.

“Obviously we didn’t have a great qualifying effort and then we took the engine change penalty before the race,” he said. “We started in the back, made some good progress, but it was difficult to pass. The guys made good calls to keep me in the hunt but keeping the car pointed straight was a challenge. To pass people was very tough. The cars are so close, so the series might be a victim of their own success right now. We need to start allowing something to differentiate when guys get it right and wrong.”

Their teammate in the Novo Nordisk CGR car, Charlie Kimball, fought an ill-handling race car to 17th.

Dixon is now fifth in the IZOD IndyCar Series point standings with 221 (78 points behind leader Helio Castroneves), while Franchitti holds on to 10th with 192 and Kimball is 13th on 175.

Hamilton: Abu Dhabi ‘the last race with good-looking cars’ in F1

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Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.

Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.

Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.

“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.

“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”

Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.

“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.

“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”