Ferrari recruits James Allison as chassis technical director

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Ex-Lotus man James Allison has a new home with an old driver of his. The former technical director at Lotus will become Ferrari’s chassis technical director as of September 1; he’ll make his debut in red at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

Allison will work with Pat Fry, who will serve as Ferrari’s director of engineering. In May, Ferrari had denied approaching Allison for a role with the team.

The move reunites him with Fernando Alonso. They worked together at Renault last decade, and together won the 2005 and 2006 World Championships. After Allison’s departure from Lotus, Alonso spoke highly of him.

“I worked very closely with him and was world champion with him two times,” Alonso told the BBC. “Then I came back to Renault in 2008 – and in 2009, he was already technical director and we were not so successful with that car. But we saw the Lotus car in the last two years and there is no secret that he’s one of the top men here and we will see what future he has.”

There’s still 10 more races left in 2013 for Alonso to claw back the 39-point gap to Sebastian Vettel. It’s not impossible as Vettel proved a year ago, when he trailed Alonso by 42 after the 11th round of the season at Hungary, and with only nine races left.

But Allison’s task will be to help turn the Ferrari into a car capable of performing better on Saturdays, so that it can take the fight to Red Bull, Lotus and Mercedes on Sundays.

IndyCar 2017 driver review: Ed Carpenter

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MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. The 2017 season behind the wheel was better for Ed Carpenter than either of the last two years, but still wasn’t ideal results-wise in his six oval starts.

Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

  • 2016: 25th Place (5 Starts), Best Finish 18th, Best Start 5th, 0 Top-5, 0 Top-10, 1 Lap Led, 11.2 Avg. Start, 21.8 Avg. Finish
  • 2017: 22nd Place (6 Starts), Best Finish 7th, Best Start 2nd, 0 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 11.3 Avg. Start, 12.3 Avg. Finish

Ed Carpenter’s 2017 season was largely one of frustration, both behind the wheel and as a team owner.

While a respectable turnaround in results occurred – Carpenter finished between seventh and 12th in five of his six oval races after a nightmare season of ending 18th or worse in each of his 2016 starts – this is still not what he sets out to strive for in the races he does. Lost opportunities loomed larger than any official result he or the Ed Carpenter Racing team achieved.

Carpenter and new teammate JR Hildebrand, in for the departed Josef Newgarden, dominated preseason testing in Phoenix but Hildebrand could only muster third in the race, Carpenter a season-best seventh. Then at Indianapolis, Carpenter (second) and Hildebrand (sixth) flew the flag for Chevrolet in qualifying and practice pace, but they fell to 11th and 16th on race day owing to a front-wing change and late-race penalty for passing before a restart.

Both drivers got collected in incidents at Texas. Hildebrand qualified and finished a season-best second in Iowa but that result came only after the ECR crew rebuilt his car from a crash in practice. Then Carpenter had a practice crash in Pocono and despite a rapid rebuild, they missed the clock to qualify by mere minutes and were unable to do so. Carpenter’s spin on a slick Gateway track at the start of the race sent him over Will Power’s nose assembly in one of the scarier looking incidents of the year, although fortunately he was OK.

In a similar refrain as we often write, it’s not that Carpenter’s lost his ability to drive and he remains one of the series’ savviest and smartest people in the paddock. There have been a lot of extenuating circumstances of late, and it almost felt as though this team had “empty nest” components. Since September, Carpenter has had to secure his team’s future with a move away from its Speedway, Ind. shop, line up Spencer Pigot for a full-time drive replacing Hildebrand in the No. 21 car, find a new road/street course driver in the No. 20 car, and manage both driving and owning himself.