Danica: Cup debut at Indy was “not anything special”

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In her first Brickyard 400, Danica Patrick just couldn’t summon up the past magic she had in an IndyCar at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The Sprint Cup rookie was name-checked in the command from IMS board chairwoman Mari Hulman George – “Danica and gentlemen, start your engines,” she said – but was unable to move towards the lead pack in the race and finished 30th.

“You know, it just wasn’t anything special,” Patrick said about her long Sunday afternoon at the Speedway. “I just kind of kept with it and hoped to catch a break somewhere or that the car would get a lot better and it just kind of stayed real steady.”

“We took two tires on one of the stops and we got track position out of it, but unfortunately, it just didn’t run very well. So, we tried something; it just didn’t work and that’s that. It just was what it was.”

Patrick believed that additional practice would have helped matters, saying that despite her past experience at IMS, she felt that she didn’t know the track well enough in the car she had today.

“I didn’t feel like I was extremely comfortable as in I knew where to take the car to the limit,” she said. “More time would have probably helped. That’s where experience comes in and it’s not like [the Indianapolis 500] – we don’t have a whole week [to practice]. So, we’ve got to get it done in a couple of hours.”

Despite her problems on the track, she was still happy for Stewart-Haas teammate Ryan Newman, who won in front of his home crowd.

“We’ve had a trying year for sure and so, the high point of Tony [Stewart] winning at Dover and Ryan winning here is pretty cool,” she said. “This is a special place and I’m sure he’s very happy in Victory Lane.”

Hamilton: Abu Dhabi ‘the last race with good-looking cars’ in F1

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Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.

Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.

Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.

“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.

“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”

Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.

“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.

“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”