There’s been a large contingent of IndyCar personnel on the ground here at Circuit of the Americas this weekend, whether drivers or competition personnel. Chief among them is the series’ president of competition and operations, Derrick Walker.
Walker is here, working with FIA officials in meetings regarding potential safety and other competition-related improvements that could come to IndyCar in 2014.
Additionally, he confirmed that changes are likely coming to IndyCar’s competition personnel.
“It’s not what you think, though,” he noted. “Frankly we need a bigger staff on the competition side and we need to have the capital investment to be able to do that. We’re moving in that direction.”
A source close to the situation has confirmed the potential addition of at least one known IndyCar entity for the competition department.
Walker said he is still in the midst of what he considered a “steep learning curve” with IndyCar, from the managerial side.
What that does mean is, contrary to earlier reports, that IndyCar will be his first preference in 2014 and not the Falken Tire-backed Porsche sports car team that competes in the merged TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. Walker explained why the confusion existed.
“For 2013 I had the commitment to Falken, and because I came into IndyCar midseason, any conflicts meant that I would tend to those Falken responsibilities first. I had to,” Walker said. “I can be at the non-conflicting (sports car) rounds, but IndyCar will be first.”
The Falken TUDOR team will still be run out of the Walker Racing shop in Indianapolis with the same crew. That team is set to miss the first race of the 2014 season as it takes delivery and assembles its new 991-coded Porsche 911 RSR.
On Monday, the Formula 1 schedule finally allowed teams to be in Europe before heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s season finale.
And as such, that provided a window for now four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to return to the Mercedes AMG Petronas factories in Brackley and Brixworth to be celebrated for taking the driver’s title, as Hamilton an Valtteri Bottas delivered Mercedes its fourth straight constructor’s title.
Hamilton was at Brixworth, the home of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and its highly successful Mercedes-Benz Power Units first before heading to Brackley, where he was welcomed with a “guard of honor” as the entire team came out to greet him.
The champion was overwhelmed at the response and the welcome.
“This a very emotional day. I was not expecting this, thanks everyone for the warm welcome,” he said. “Today is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me – I’m blown away.
“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone. I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me. Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100%, which encourages me to bring my best performance.
“Thank you all for helping me achieve my dreams, it would not have been possible without you. This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had – that just makes it so much greater.”
A social roundup of images and videos are below, all via Hamilton and the Mercedes team on social media.