Some other news, nuggets and tidbits from Toronto Race 1

Leave a comment

Ordinarily, we’d be able to take time after an IndyCar race and really analyze some of the key storylines in further detail.

After today’s Honda Indy Toronto, and everything that’s happened in post-race, that’s not really possible. So here’s some of the other little nuggets that have gone unwritten up to this point:

  • The actual finishing order. Scott Dixon beats Sebastien Bourdais and Dario Franchitti. That much you knew. Marco Andretti, now, goes back to fourth, with Tony Kanaan fifth. The rest of the top 10: Helio Castroneves, Mike Conway, James Hinchcliffe, Simon Pagenaud and Simona de Silvestro. Here’s a link to the full box score.
  • A few other stats. In 10th place, Simona de Silvestro has her first top-10 finish since Brazil early May (eight races ago). Mike Conway improved the most positions, from 20th to seventh in the second Dale Coyne Racing Honda. James Hinchcliffe has his best career Toronto finish of eighth. Also, Ed Carpenter improved from 23rd to 13th, and for him, that’s not a half bad result on a road or street course, at all.
  • Four cautions for 14 laps. The number of laps under yellow, 14, is the same as occurred at Detroit, race one. Go figure.
  • Power outage. Twice, Will Power outbraked himself going into Turn 3 after a deep dive passing attempt. The first was on Dixon, the second on Franchitti. Unfortunate given how he ran, but the Team Penske driver finished only 15th.
  • Sensor drama. So you’re wondering what the reason is why Josef Newgarden’s car failed to engage for the standing start? Unfortunately for the Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing team and its talented sophomore driver, it was an engine sensor malfunction outside the team’s control.
  • Rahal vs. Vautier. Bobby Rahal took to Twitter to explain his frustration with rookie Tristan Vautier after Vautier contacted Rahal’s son – and driver – Graham. “Simply put Vautier is over his head- desperate to make an impression regardless. If I was advising him I’d suggest finishing w/o drama,” the senior Rahal wrote.
  • Briscoe on the mend? This from Panther Racing’s Ryan Briscoe, who got caught up in the Lap 65 four-car pileup: “Sitting at med centre now getting ready to go to the hospital for X-rays on my right wrist. Thanks for all the nice messages.”
  • Points! My colleague Chris Estrada just expanded on this, but Castroneves survived the usual calamities of race one for yet another top-10 finish. Heading into race two, Castroneves (384) leads Ryan Hunter-Reay by 39 points, with Dixon now third, only three points behind “RHR.”
  • The sun will rise again, tomorrow. After today, we get a second race, tomorrow at 3 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network. What’s not to love?

F1 2017 driver review: Max Verstappen

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Max Verstappen

Team: Red Bull Racing
Car No.: 33
Races: 20
Wins: 2
Podiums (excluding wins): 2
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 1
Points: 168
Laps Led: 133
Championship Position: 6th

Max Verstappen rise as a once-in-a-generation talent continued through the 2017 Formula 1 season, even if reliability issues meant we were made to wait for his best form to arrive.

Verstappen stole the show in a wet-dry Chinese Grand Prix by charging from 16th to seventh in the opening lap before ultimately finishing third for Red Bull, yet he would not grace the podium again until the Malaysian Grand Prix at the start of October.

A combination of power unit problems and on-track clashes saw Verstappen retire from seven of the 12 races in the intermittent period, with incidents in Spain and Austria being avoidable.

Perhaps most embarrassing of all was his stoppage due to a power unit failure in front of a grandstand swathed in orange at the Belgian Grand Prix, a race tens of thousands of Dutch fans had attended to cheer Verstappen on.

But when Verstappen got things right, it was – as he frequently quoted – simply, simply lovely. There was plenty left in the tank, as proven by his sheer domination of the races in Malaysia and Mexico as he took the second and third wins of his career.

Perhaps even more impressive was Verstappen’s victory over Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo in the qualifying head-to-head battle this year, an area the Australian has traditionally been strong in. Verstappen outqualifed his teammate 13-7 – it wasn’t even close…

All in all, Verstappen once again proved that on his day, he is one of the finest talents to grace F1 in recent years. With the right car underneath him next year, a title fight is certainly possible and will be the target – but there is always room for improvement.

And that is the scary part: Verstappen is only going to get better and better.

Season High: Dominating in Malaysia after an early pass on Lewis Hamilton.

Season Low: Crashing out on Lap 1 in Austria.