A few days have passed since the IZOD IndyCar Series concluded its 2013 season. Scott Dixon is champion, which is the easiest statistic to look at. But here’s some other intriguing bits of note from the season:
- There were 10 different race winners, one shy of tying the record set in the 2000 and 2001 CART seasons. They were: James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Takuma Sato, Tony Kanaan, Mike Conway, Simon Pagenaud, Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon, Charlie Kimball and Will Power.
- Some 20 different drivers scored at least one podium finish. Any of the above 10 were joined on the rostrum at some point this year by: Marco Andretti, Justin Wilson, Dario Franchitti, Sebastien Bourdais, Simona de Silvestro, Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter, Graham Rahal, James Jakes and Carlos Munoz.
- Dixon’s title run was fueled by a second-half surge, as he scored 337 points in the last nine races, and no one else scoring more than 289. The top 10 scorers in the last nine races: Dixon 337, Power 289, Pagenaud 267, Wilson 245, Bourdais 237, Kimball 234, Castroneves 218, Franchitti 216, de Silvestro 210 and Andretti 207. Hinchcliffe (183), Newgarden (166) and Hunter-Reay (146) were next up.
- That second-half change made for a drastically different overall top 10 compared to the first half of 2013, paced by Andretti Autosport. The points after 10 races were: Castroneves 332, Hunter-Reay 323, Andretti 277, Hinchcliffe 266, Kanaan 253, Pagenaud 241, Dixon 240, Sato 233, Wilson 227 and Power 209. E.J. Viso (203) and Franchitti (202) were next.
- Power was the year’s best starter. The Australian’s starting average of 4.316 led Hunter-Reay (5.368), Andretti (8.895), Hinchcliffe (9.053), Castroneves (9.156) and Dixon (9.579). Those six were the only full-time drivers to boast a starting position average inside the top 10. Worst in the field was a tie between Rahal and Sebastian Saavedra, 17.737.
- Power’s 103 laps led at Fontana also meant he led the most laps this year, with 351 of a possible 2,433 on point. Others over 100 included Hunter-Reay at 297, Hinchcliffe on 264, Andretti 259, Dixon and Castroneves each with 239, and Sato with 187. In all 25 of the 38 drivers who took the green flag this year led at least one lap.
- Dixon scored the most points on road/street courses with 420 to Pagenaud’s 371 and Wilson’s 342, while Castroneves led the oval points with 215 to Hunter-Reay’s 209 and Kanaan’s 202. The separate Mario Andretti and A.J. Foyt Trophies for road/street and oval championships were quietly retired this year, and not awarded.
- Despite starting only 12 of 19 races, Oriol Servia scored only three fewer points than Saavedra (233 to 236), who was the lowest-placed driver to run all 19. Saavedra ended 21st in the standings.
Ferrari has released a short video of the first fire-up of its new power unit for the 2016 Formula 1 season at Maranello in Italy.
Although there is nothing to suggest what the new car will look like thanks to some cannily-terrible camera work, it is nevertheless an interesting snippet ahead of the new season.
Ferrari is yet to confirm when it will launch its 2016 runner, but is likely to do so online in the days leading up to the first pre-season test in Barcelona on February 22.
There has been much speculation about the new car as Ferrari bids to overhaul Mercedes at the head of the field and secure its first championship in eight years.
Sebastian Vettel will be hoping to build on an impressive maiden campaign with Ferrari in 2015 that yielded three race wins, while Kimi Raikkonen remains keen to pick up more silverware in what may be his last season in F1.
Along with new Chevrolet aerodynamic components being tried out at the “it’s green in February and it’s never this green the later into the year we get” Sonoma Raceway, the other interesting storyline out of Wednesday’s six-car Verizon IndyCar Series test was that it marked Max Chilton’s testing debut with Chip Ganassi Racing in the No. 8 Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. Chevrolet.
Chilton’s made the announcement, addressed the media and had his sponsor confirmed within the last week-plus.
But it was on Wednesday that the talking stopped and the driving restarted, for what was not only the 24-year-old Brit’s first time in an IndyCar but also his first time at Sonoma.
“It’s a bit of a shock today,” Chilton said, via a track-issued release. “I haven’t been in a racing car in six months and that was an Indy Lights car, so I’ve got to learn the track today and the car.
“But I think the morning went swimmingly well. I was quicker than I thought I would be. It’s a really nice kit and I can’t wait to explore it throughout the season.”
Here’s a few photos on social media, either ones he or the track shared, of his maiden day in an IndyCar.
Chilton’s next test comes later this week, still in California, at Auto Club Speedway for his first oval run in an IndyCar.
Chilton joined his three Chip Ganassi Racing teammates, Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan and Charlie Kimball, for the test. Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud also tested on Wednesday.
Pabst Racing has added a third driver to its Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda lineup, in the form of talented 19-year-old Australian driver Jordan Lloyd.
Lloyd raced the first two weekends of last year’s USF2000 season with John Cummiskey Racing before being sidelined due to financial woes, but he showed quite a bit of promise in those two weekends at St. Petersburg and NOLA Motorsports Park. He finished second in one of the NOLA races.
For 2016, Lloyd returns to the U.S. after winning the CAMS Jayco Australian Formula 4 championship last year, and was thus awarded with the ‘Road to the World’ scholarship.
“I only touched the tip of the iceberg when I was here in 2015, so on a personal level there is a lot of unfinished business that needs to be tended to,” Lloyd said in a team release. “I am looking forward to a strong season.”
Lloyd, who will drive the No. 21 car, joins the previously announced pairing of Garth Rickards and Yufeng Luo at Pabst, the Oconomowoc, Wisconsin-based team, as the USF2000 field for 2016 continues to grow both in terms of size and talent.
Luca Ghiotto will step up to the GP2 Series with Trident in 2016 after an impressive season in GP3 last year that saw him finish second in the championship standings.
Ghiotto made his GP3 debut at the end of 2014 with a four-race run-out for Trident before remaining with the Italian team for 2015.
It proved to be a memorable year as he won five races – more than any other driver – but fell eight points short of the title as Mercedes junior Esteban Ocon was crowed champion in Abu Dhabi.
Ghiotto will remain with Trident for 2016, stepping up to its GP2 operation after a successful test in Abu Dhabi at the end of last year.
“I can’t wait to line-up for this new adventure,” Ghiotto said. “Last year, it was tough for me to fight so hard and not winning the title. However, it has been an extremely useful experience with the help of the excellent teamwork among the whole Trident stable.
“I want to thank once again Maurizio Salvadori and Giacomo Ricci for their support, and the Italian Federation for believing so much in me. I really look forward to be back on-track.”