It’s “Scandal Eve” as F1 awaits “Tiregate” verdict

Leave a comment

It’s “scandal eve” in Formula One, as the results of Mercedes’ secret tire test at Barcelona will be revealed at an FIA Tribunal on Thursday.

With “Tiregate” first and foremost on the minds of the F1 paddock, it’s nice that it’s been a few years since such a political scandal has emerged. We take a look back now on two of the more inglorious moments in F1 with the last two major scandals, “Crashgate” and “Spygate.”

CRASHGATE

It was late September 2008, and the first running of the Singapore Grand Prix. Renault rookie Nelson Piquet Jr. crashed, which necessitated the need for a safety car. Teammate Fernando Alonso took the advantage of pitting early and then leapfrogging everyone else to score a surprise win from 15th place on the grid.

There were a few eyebrows raised at the time but nothing substantive, until the following summer. Renault dropped Piquet due to his underwhelming performance, and the Brazilian later alleged the team told him to crash at Singapore on purpose.

This sparked an investigation by the FIA and later, a charge of conspiracy by the team. That meant the end of Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds’ involvements with Renault, and bans imposed were later overturned as part of a settlement reached by the governing body.

The unfortunate soul picked to replace Piquet? A one Romain Grosjean…

SPYGATE

McLaren’s current struggles with its car pales in comparison to when it had the microscope of scrutiny purely on its shoulders: “Spygate” in 2007.

It was alleged McLaren had obtained confidential information from Ferrari and evidence presented eventually led to McLaren’s exclusion from the 2007 World Championship, and a $100 million U.S. fine.

Ferrari had presented the case against Nigel Stepney and an engineer from McLaren – later named as Mike Coughlan – in the matter.

The off-track saga complemented the on-track drama for McLaren that year. A tempestuous relationship between Fernando Alonso and then-rookie Lewis Hamilton boiled over, where they both lost the title to Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen. Alonso, of course, left the team to return to Renault for 2008.

IndyCar 2017 driver review: Ed Carpenter

Getty Images
Leave a comment

MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. The 2017 season behind the wheel was better for Ed Carpenter than either of the last two years, but still wasn’t ideal results-wise in his six oval starts.

Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

  • 2016: 25th Place (5 Starts), Best Finish 18th, Best Start 5th, 0 Top-5, 0 Top-10, 1 Lap Led, 11.2 Avg. Start, 21.8 Avg. Finish
  • 2017: 22nd Place (6 Starts), Best Finish 7th, Best Start 2nd, 0 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 11.3 Avg. Start, 12.3 Avg. Finish

Ed Carpenter’s 2017 season was largely one of frustration, both behind the wheel and as a team owner.

While a respectable turnaround in results occurred – Carpenter finished between seventh and 12th in five of his six oval races after a nightmare season of ending 18th or worse in each of his 2016 starts – this is still not what he sets out to strive for in the races he does. Lost opportunities loomed larger than any official result he or the Ed Carpenter Racing team achieved.

Carpenter and new teammate JR Hildebrand, in for the departed Josef Newgarden, dominated preseason testing in Phoenix but Hildebrand could only muster third in the race, Carpenter a season-best seventh. Then at Indianapolis, Carpenter (second) and Hildebrand (sixth) flew the flag for Chevrolet in qualifying and practice pace, but they fell to 11th and 16th on race day owing to a front-wing change and late-race penalty for passing before a restart.

Both drivers got collected in incidents at Texas. Hildebrand qualified and finished a season-best second in Iowa but that result came only after the ECR crew rebuilt his car from a crash in practice. Then Carpenter had a practice crash in Pocono and despite a rapid rebuild, they missed the clock to qualify by mere minutes and were unable to do so. Carpenter’s spin on a slick Gateway track at the start of the race sent him over Will Power’s nose assembly in one of the scarier looking incidents of the year, although fortunately he was OK.

In a similar refrain as we often write, it’s not that Carpenter’s lost his ability to drive and he remains one of the series’ savviest and smartest people in the paddock. There have been a lot of extenuating circumstances of late, and it almost felt as though this team had “empty nest” components. Since September, Carpenter has had to secure his team’s future with a move away from its Speedway, Ind. shop, line up Spencer Pigot for a full-time drive replacing Hildebrand in the No. 21 car, find a new road/street course driver in the No. 20 car, and manage both driving and owning himself.