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A third-place finish at today’s British Grand Prix – one that enabled him to chop 15 points from his deficit to championship leader Sebastian Vettel – was not enough to assuage the concerns of Fernando Alonso, who remained disturbed about Ferrari’s lack of overall pace throughout the weekend.
“Mixed feelings, to be honest – [I’m] happy for the points, [and] we’ve reduced the gap a little bit in this race, but the pace we saw this weekend is not good enough,” said Alonso, who moved within 21 points of Vettel after the German retired due to a Lap 41 gearbox failure.
“There were some other Sundays that we lost some points and maybe I was more optimistic. Today, we recovered some points but we know there is a lot of work to do. But I trust the team – we are united, we have a difficult weekend, we move on, and now we think of the next one.”
When the safety car went off following Vettel’s incident, Alonso began his charge to the front of the field in the closing laps. He peeled off seventh from Jenson Button at Lap 46, then sixth from Daniel Ricciardo just two laps later. But his most breathtaking moves were still to come as he passed Adrian Sutil for fourth and then dusted Kimi Raikkonen going into Stowe on Lap 50, capping an impressive rally to the podium.
Nonetheless, Alonso called himself and his race “lucky” to come out the way they did, noting near-disasters with Sergio Perez after his explosive tire failure, as well as with Mark Webber and Romain Grosjean – both of whom he narrowly missed colliding with at the start.
“I just need to be very thankful for the team, for the luck and try to improve for next weekend,” the Spaniard said.
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.