Dixon Toronto’s biggest weekend winner, but there were other stars

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Scott Dixon won everything but the lottery this weekend in Toronto, and hell, if he stayed in town for a few more days you’d have to put odds on him for that versus the field, too.

Still, there were others besides the New Zealander who starred during the IZOD IndyCar Series’ Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader weekend. Dixon’s numbers are listed below, among them, with the rest of the standouts and winners from the two days of racing.

  • Scott Dixon. Two wins, one pole, 95 laps led, 105 of a maximum 108 points scored and closed to within 29 points of the IZOD IndyCar Series championship lead. Oh, and an extra $100,000 from SONAX for sweeping the double. Yeah, I’d say it was a pretty good weekend for the quiet, ninja Kiwi assassin from Target Chip Ganassi Racing.
  • Sebastien Bourdais. Cal Naughton Jr. famously once said, “Frenchie can drive.” It’s not that Bourdais forgot his craft, but after dwelling in anonymity and frustration for the first 11 races of the year, back-to-back podiums have revitalized him and Jay Penske’s Dragon Racing organization. He and new engineer Tom Brown have almost immediately gelled. He said this weekend that Toronto has been his springboard the last two years, and looks to make 2013 a three-peat of recoveries.
  • Dario Franchitti. Remember when Franchitti was 26th and last in points after the first two races? Yeah, me neither, except I have to bring that up to note how far he has come since. A reinstated third on Saturday and fourth on Sunday, after a comeback from an early tire issue, makes it nine top-10 finishes in the last 11 races, and Franchitti has recovered to seventh place in the championship.
  • Mike Conway. The biggest problem for Conway this weekend is that he set the bar so high at Detroit that a repeat was almost expected. So when he had back-to-back miserable qualifying runs of 20th and 23rd, with a setup that didn’t take as kindly to the streets of Toronto as Detroit, there were some who counted him out. But he charged through the field on both occasions, including some ballsy outside passes at Turn 3, to end with a pair of sevenths in Dale Coyne’s second car. He’s also confirmed for Houston, but there’s still a good chance we’ll see him before.
  • The Honda Indy Toronto fans. Yes, they got the short end of the stick on Saturday with the aborted standing start, and voiced their displeasure with a chorus of boos you could have heard in Edmonton. But to INDYCAR and the promoter’s combined credit, they made sure to enhance the weekend for the ticket-buyers and try it again on Sunday. As Marco Andretti said after Saturday, the series should do what the fans wanted. Not to mention, there were five other series on the weekend docket, and that made it worth every penny to attend in person.

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.