IndyCar Driver Review: James Hinchcliffe

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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.

In eighth place, IndyCar’s resident court jester and the second of four first-time winners in 2013, James Hinchcliffe…

2013 SEASON PREVIEW

James Hinchcliffe

  • Team: Andretti Autosport
  • 2012: 8th Place, Best Finish 3rd, Best Start 2nd
  • 2013: 8th Place, 3 Wins, Best Start 2nd, 4 Podiums, 6 Top-5, 11 Top-10, 264 Laps Led, 9.1 Avg. Start, 12.3 Avg. Finish

DiZinno says: Hinch is known as the comedian of the IndyCar paddock and his season was the equivalent of a sitcom: it alternated brilliant episodes with clunkers on a regular basis. Three wins were balanced out by four finishes of 21st or worse in the first 11 races, before six top-10s in the final eight races concluded the year. The sitcom metaphor continues because in the second half of the year, Hinch had to keep producing great on-track performances while mulling his future: do I take my talents to another channel (team) or stay with the network (team) where I’ve grown further? He chose the latter, he’ll be better for it and he’ll rock even harder in 2014.

Estrada says: After a wildly uneven first half in which he rarely found the middle ground between finishing up front and finishing in the back, Hinchcliffe put together a steady stretch of good results to close what was a pivotal year for him. Unlike in the past, Hinchcliffe was in a position of strength when it came time to Silly Season and his work on the track didn’t do anything to take away from it. Now thoroughly ensconced within the Andretti camp, the Canadian will now be looking to maintain that consistency he had toward the end of 2013 and bring it into next spring.

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.