IndyCar Driver Review: Helio Castroneves

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With the IndyCar season in the books and a limited amount of news to come since the season finale at Fontana, my MotorSportsTalk colleague Chris Estrada and are taking a look back at the 2013 season just past. Chris and I each ranked our top 10 drivers and some of the biggest stories; now we take a look back at the field driver-by-driver.

Over to you, runner-up Helio Castroneves


Helio Castroneves

  • Team: Team Penske
  • 2012: 4th Place, 2 Wins, 1 Pole
  • 2013: 2nd Place, 1 Win, 2 Poles, 5 Podiums, 6 Top-5, 16 Top-10, 239 Laps Led, 9.2 Avg. Start, 7.5 Avg. Finish

DiZinno says: I get the sense that if Castroneves didn’t win the title this year, he won’t be able to. Everything was set up on a platter for him with myriad issues plaguing any and all of his rivals, and they didn’t strike him until Houston. That weekend will take the blame for the title loss but for as consistent as Castroneves was this year, which was admirable, there weren’t that many standout drives from the popular Brazilian. He scored only one top-five finish in the last 10 races after five in the first nine. In this field, you simply needed to not only gather points, but gather big points more than just a handful of times.

Estrada says: A recent INDYCAR release “caught up” with Castroneves, who said that he’s moved on from the 2013 season – going on to say that “last year was yesterday’s news.” For the three-time Indianapolis 500 champion, that’s probably for the best considering how his run to the championship fell apart in Houston. Maximizing what his car would give him on race day got him into the hunt and kept him there. But with Dixon’s second-half rampage, he simply needed more great days down the stretch instead of good ones. That didn’t happen, and as a result, Castroneves is still missing a series title.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.