Franchitti’s pole legacy at Toronto spans three decades

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Dario Franchitti’s experience level is such that he has won poles at Toronto in three different decades. His pole on Friday for the first of the IZOD IndyCar Series’ Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader weekend is his fifth on the streets of Exhibition Place, to go along with other poles in 1997 (his rookie year in CART), 1998, 2009 and 2012.

“Gee, my first one was 1997. T.K. was here. Will was still at school. Dixie, what were you doing in 1997?” the Scot asked of several of his fellow Firestone Fast Six participants.

Franchitti made things a bit more difficult for himself after an incident in the morning, which sent his Target Chip Ganassi Racing crew scrambling to fix the right hand side of his car. The pole is his third of 2013, to go along with other poles at Long Beach and Detroit race one.

“It feels good to get our third pole of the year,” he said. “I made it difficult this morning. I made a mistake in Turn 5 there, took the right side off the car. The guys had to work and repair the car.

“But the Target car was good on Firestone blacks, Firestone reds. I was able to keep finding a little bit every lap. Even the second runner-up on tires in Q3, I was able to push a little bit more. Yeah, felt really good about that.”

F1 2017 driver review: Sebastian Vettel

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Sebastian Vettel

Team: Scuderia Ferrari
Car No.: 5
Races: 20
Wins: 5
Podiums (excluding wins): 8
Pole Positions: 4
Fastest Laps: 5
Points: 317
Laps Led: 286
Championship Position: 2nd

2017 was supposed to be the year Sebastian Vettel finally fulfilled his ambition of emulating Michael Schumacher by returning Ferrari to its championship-winning heyday.

Instead, it ended in disappointment and frustration – once again.

Ferrari arguably made a greater step across the change in technical regulations for 2017 than any other team, living up to its pre-season tag as favorite by winning the opening round in Australia in fashion.

Vettel and Ferrari led their respective championships following the Monaco Grand Prix as the German ended a 16-year win drought for the Prancing Horse in the principality, and even heading into the summer break, a shot at both championships was looking good.

However, cracks had started to appear. Vettel’s remarkable antics behind the safety car in Baku sparked controversy after driving into Hamilton, suggesting the tension of the title fight was beginning to take its toll on the German.

The final run of flyaways was where things really fell apart for Vettel, though. Singapore looked to be a slam-dunk win, only for a start-line crash also involving teammate Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen to put 25 free points in Hamilton’s pocket.

Reliability woes then struck in Malaysia and Japan – two more races Vettel could realistically have won – to make it game over in the title race, with Hamilton wrapping things up in Mexico.

Vettel only finished the year 46 points back from Hamilton, proving the impact the three bad races in Asia had. Realistically, this was a title race that should have gone down to the wire in Abu Dhabi. Instead, Vettel remains a four-time champion, level with Hamilton, who had just one to his name back in 2013 when his rival secured his fourth.

Ferrari’s internal issues will come under the microscope over the off-season, and Vettel himself knows there is plenty to work on. Staying cool under pressure and not letting things boil over as in Baku is the most obvious area for improvement.

But there is reason for hope. If Ferrari can keep up with Mercedes and repeat its impressive step into 2017 through the upcoming off-season, we may well be treated to another Vettel/Hamilton scrap at the front of the field, perhaps settling once and for all who is the greatest driver of the post-Schumacher era.

Season High: A crucial win in Hungary despite battling with a broken steering column.

Season Low: Letting tensions flare in Baku and hitting Hamilton behind the safety car.