Marco Andretti’s fourth leads Sonoma ‘best of the rest’

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The rest of the top 10, beyond the podium in Sunday’s GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, was overshadowed in the aftermath of the post-race drama. But here are a few notes on IndyCar finishers P4-10:

  • Fourth-placed Marco Andretti picked up his third top-five in the last 10 races and improved from 11th on the grid. There have been days this year where his pace was enough to win but a result went begging; in this case, it was a quiet, methodical march to the front as the top finishing Andretti Autosport entry.
  • Simon Pagenaud in fifth told me post-race the tire degradation wasn’t nearly as bad as he or the HP Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports team was expecting. Surprisingly it is only the third top-five finish of the season for him.
  • Ryan Hunter-Reay’s race was screwed from the moment he didn’t pit on the third caution of Lap 17. He pitted for the first time on the fourth caution, and that cost him track position that he spent all day recovering from, ultimately ending in sixth.
  • Points leader Helio Castroneves started fifth, finished seventh, and still gained 8 points on Scott Dixon when all was said and done. Another maximized points day for the Brazilian in search of his elusive first title.
  • James Hinchcliffe made it three Andretti cars in the top 10 in eighth after a good, but not great weekend in the No. 27 GoDaddy Chevrolet.
  • Needed top-10s for Simona de Silvestro in ninth and Sebastien Bourdais in 10th. Both have struggled for results of late. This is Simona’s second top-10 in the last 11 races and Bourdais’ third of the season, besides his pair of podiums in Toronto.

Verstappen doesn’t want F1 season to end after recent run of form

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Max Verstappen says he is not ready for the 2017 Formula 1 season to come to an end after enjoying a run of strong form through the closing stages of the campaign.

Verstappen endured a rocky run of form through to the end of the European season that saw him suffer a number of reliability issues and score just a single podium finish, taking third in China back in April.

However, the Dutchman has rallied to score more points than any other driver in the last five races, including victories in Malaysia and Mexico, as well as a podium finish in Japan.

Verstappen heads into next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix chasing a third win of the year to sign off, but joked he does not want the season to end just as he’s got into a good groove.

“We will, of course, try and end the season with a strong result in Abu Dhabi,” Verstappen said. “Last year was actually quite a good race after skipping a pit stop following a spin at Turn 1, it was hard to manage the tires to the end of the race but we did it and finished fourth.

“I would say that my favorite part of the track is at Turns 2 and 3, the fast left, right. It’s also very cool driving underneath the hotel and racing in the darkness with all the lights.

“The final sector at Yas Marina is actually quite technical so you have to be really precise there, but it should also be our strongest part of the track.

“There are quite a few overtaking opportunities to make the race interesting, before the long straight at the hairpin and then at the end of the straight under braking for the next chicane section.

“Abu Dhabi is the last race on the calendar, but I don’t actually want the season to end. I’m really fired up at the moment and I just want to keep going.

“The nice thing will be to spend some time with friends and family over the winter break and then I will look ahead to January and get back into training before it all starts again.”