When all was said and done, the IZOD IndyCar Series’ pair of Canadians had a mixed and unfulfilling Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader weekend.
That’s not to say there weren’t some decent results, but a solitary eighth (James Hinchcliffe on Saturday) and 10th (Alex Tagliani on Sunday) are hardly worth celebrating.
Hinchcliffe drove a clean, consistent race one en route to eighth on Saturday, but his Sunday never had the chance to properly materialize. The Andretti Autosport team needed to change Hinchcliffe’s throttle as it stuck just prior to the start. That meant the Oakville native wouldn’t have the chance to participate in IndyCar’s first standing start.
“The throttle stuck (on the start) – it’s pretty simple. I was just going through the routine of the standing start, and as soon as I put my thumb on the throttle, it stuck 100 percent, and that was about a minute before they gave the command (to start engines). We tried WD-40, but unfortunately that wasn’t the magic fix, and we had to replace the pedal and went three laps down right off the bat. Then we had no yellows to help us out; we ran around in the back all day. Obviously gutted for the team and for GoDaddy, but more than anyone for the fans. It sucks for everyone that came out today. I was hoping for better in my hometown. But we weren’t going to give up – I wanted to go out, finish the race and get any points we could,” said the “Mayor of Hinchtown.”
Tagliani, meanwhile, at least could take some satisfaction in his and the Barracuda Racing/Bryan Herta Autosport’s first top-10 finish since the season opener at St. Petersburg on Sunday. Usually a wordsmith who is never shy of sentences, Tagliani had a succinct quote on his day.
“I gave it everything I had out there for the Barracuda Racing boys,” he said.
Williams Martini Racing will announce its line-up for the 2017 Formula 1 season on November 3 following the Mexican Grand Prix.
Williams will change its line-up for the first time in three seasons next year when Felipe Massa retires from F1.
The Brazilian will be replaced by 17-year-old Lance Stroll, who won the FIA F3 title in 2016 with Prema Powerteam.
Stroll is set to join Valtteri Bottas, who, despite being subject to interest from Renault, is set to extend his stint as a race driver with Williams into a fifth season.
Stroll will become the second-youngest driver to make his F1 debut at the start of the 2017 season, and the youngest since the FIA introduced a lower-age limit of 18 to F1. The Canadian turns 18 this Saturday.
Williams currently sits fifth in the constructors’ championship with three races remaining in the 2016 season, with one podium to its name so far courtesy of Bottas in Canada.
Marcus Ericsson says that a move to Force India for the 2017 Formula 1 season is “definitely an option”, but is also excited by the prospect of remaining at Sauber.
Ericsson is currently embarking in his third season in F1 and his second with Sauber, having scored nine points during his stint with the Swiss team.
Sauber currently sits at the foot of the constructors’ championship, with neither Ericsson nor Nasr scoring a point after a turbulent financial period for the team.
Sauber’s long-term future was secured over the summer when Longbow Finance completed a takeover, its backers allegedly having links to Ericsson.
However, the Swedish driver is open to a move away from the team at the end of the season, and believes that the vacant seat at Force India is the most lucrative on the grid.
“I think all the drivers that don’t have a contract for next year yet are looking at the [Force India] seat,” Ericsson said.
“Force India is a competitive car at the moment so it’s definitely an option.
“Sauber is an exciting option for me for next year because they have a very strong project building.
“Hopefully sooner rather than later I will know what’s happening next year for me.”
Esteban Gutierrez says that he is strongly considering alternative options to Haas for 2017 as the American team continues to wait before making a decision on its Formula 1 line-up.
Gutierrez returned to F1 full-time in 2016 after one year away, joining NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas’ new racing operation.
Gutierrez has failed to score any points in the opening 18 races of the year, while teammate Romain Grosjean has 29 to his name.
Haas is known to be currently considering its line-up for 2017, with Grosjean poised to stay.
Gutierrez’s future is less clear, but said in Thursday’s FIA press conference ahead of the Mexican Grand Prix that he wanted it to be resolved in the next two weeks.
“I think Gene has been very clear in the media. They want to wait a few races,” Gutierrez said.
“Fortunately we have other options which we are now considering strongly.
“I think it would be important to close something soon because we cannot risk to just wait a few more races to the end of the season, and risk falling between two chairs.
“Things are looking good for next season.”
When asked if he had a personal deadline for firming up his 2017 plans, Gutierrez said: “The deadline should be in the next two weeks.”
Should Gutierrez leave Haas, drives at Force India and Renault are likely to be on the Mexican’s radar, with both teams having one free seat.
Tony Kanaan and wife Lauren have welcomed a new baby into the world, with “TK” announcing the birth of son Max on Thursday.
Max joins other sons Deco and Leo in the Kanaan family. Kanaan reported both mom and baby are doing well.
This is the latest new arrival to the Verizon IndyCar Series, with Ryan Hunter-Reay and wife Beccy welcoming their third son Rhodes (after Ryden and Roczen) in September, and with Will Power and wife Liz expecting their first child in December.
Kanaan has re-signed with Chip Ganassi Racing and will drive the team’s No. 10 NTT Data Honda once more in 2017.