Throughout the life of two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Dan Wheldon, he gave the IZOD IndyCar Series and its fans many things – chief among them being an exciting style of driving in the cockpit and a charismatic yet kind-hearted personality out of it.
But as today marks what would have been his 35th birthday, one can’t help but think of another gift he helped give to the sport. The Dallara DW12, which earned its name after Wheldon’s tragic death in the 2011 season finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, has served as a phenomenal boost to the series. Wheldon and Bryan Herta Autosport developed the car early on, helping to identify key weaknesses that IndyCar and Dallara would work on leading up to its official debut in the 2012 campaign.
Sadly, Wheldon would not be able to completely see the project through. But through his and BHA’s efforts, the DW12 would eventually become track-worthy. And there can be no argument that it has provided some of the best racing on the planet over the last year and a half. IndyCar’s on-track product has been stellar, which should give its fans hope even as the series continues its current battle to reclaim the public presence it once had.
Indeed, while we wish Dan Wheldon was still here, his presence is still felt in a very positive manner.
Happy Birthday, Lionheart. From all of us.
Azerbaijan GP red flagged after 22 laps following chaotic sequence
The Azerbaijan Grand Prix has been red flagged for debris following a chaotic sequence of laps that saw three safety cars be deployed following multiple incidents, leaving the track covered in debris.
The first safety car was called after Daniil Kvyat stopped out on-track, with the marshals able to recover it with relative ease, but the bunched field on the restart soon descended into chaos.
Debris from Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari caused a second safety car period to be called within a lap, but the marshals were again able to clear this easily, allowing Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton to lead the field away for the second restart.
Hamilton and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel made contact twice behind the safety car, leaving debris on-track at Turn 15, with both drivers blaming each other for the incident.
The greater clashes came on the first lap of green flag running as Force India teammates Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon clashes at Turn 3, the latter bumping Perez into the wall. Both were required to pit for repairs, and while Ocon could get back out, Perez was less fortunate, retiring from the race.
A third safety car was called, with the stewards then deciding to throw a red flag to allow the debris on the track to be cleared.
A weekend that has been dominated by Chevrolet and Team Penske so far saw Honda jump to the top during morning warmup. Ryan Hunter-Reay was fastest for Andretti Autosport, followed by Max Chilton for Chip Ganassi Racing. Hunter-Reay’s teammate Alexander Rossi ended the session third, making it a Honda 1-2-3 in the morning warmup.
Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud was the quickest of the Chevrolet camp in fourth, followed by A.J. Foyt Racing’s Carlos Munoz in fifth.
Only 19 of the 21 drivers turned laps during the session, with Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon and Andretti Autosport’s Takuma Sato failing to put laps in. Dixon’s No. 9 NTT Data Honda was suffering from fuel pressure problems that kept it in the garage, while Sato was feeling under the weather during the morning, and the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda team elected not to go out.
Coverage of the Kohler Grand Prix begins at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
Formula 1 legend and Mercedes non-executive director Niki Lauda was quick to heap praise on Lewis Hamilton after qualifying in Azerbaijan on Saturday, saying he had “never seen anything like” the Briton’s Q3 pole lap.