IndyCar Driver Review: Graham Rahal

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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.

P18, the second son at his father’s team in 2013 standings, Graham Rahal…

2013 SEASON PREVIEW

Graham Rahal

  • Team: Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
  • 2012: 10th Place, Best Finish 2nd, Best Start 3rd
  • 2013: 18th Place, Best Finish 2nd, Best Start 6th, 1 Podium, 2 Top-5, 5 Top-10, 6 Laps Led, 17.7 Avg. Start, 14.8 Avg. Finish

DiZinno says: In 2012, Marco Andretti hit relative “rock bottom” with one runner-up finish, three top-10s in 15 races and 16th in the points. Graham Rahal’s homecoming to his dad’s team for 2013 was not supposed to mirror that, but it did. There was one runner-up finish, five top-10s in 19 races and 18th in the points. Andretti made the necessary adjustments to improve for 2013 – which he did – and young Rahal may need to do the same this offseason. Granted, he had his moments of glory (Long Beach, Iowa and Baltimore weekends were stout) and he was closer to the pace in qualifying once the team added Neil Fife to its engineering roster. But it was a terribly disappointing season and one he’d probably like to forget sooner rather than later.

Estrada says: All the optimism from Rahal’s return to the family team quickly vanished as the season wore on. Outside of a handful of efforts – his podium at Long Beach being the most prominent of those – the son of Bobby endured a very frustrating campaign that saw him struggle in qualifying (two Top-10 starts in 19 races) and also have some rough luck on race days, such as having to swallow a 17th-place finish at Baltimore due to late contact following a strong run. We’ll see if the addition of race engineer Bill Pappas to the RLL camp can help boost their fortunes next season.

‘Still quite early’ for Ricciardo to think about Red Bull F1 future

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Daniel Ricciardo feels it is “still quite early” to make a decision about his Red Bull Formula 1 future despite seeing teammate Max Verstappen announce on Friday he would be staying with the team until 2020.

Verstappen, 20, put pen to paper on an enhanced F1 contract with Red Bull, with his previous deal due to expire at the end of next season in parallel to Ricciardo’s own agreement.

Ricciardo was asked following practice on Friday why he is yet to strike a new deal for himself with Red Bull, and explained he is in no rush to make a final decision when he has over a year to run on his current contract.

“It’s not that I’ve said no to anything. It’s just still quite early I think,” Ricciardo explained.

“People talked a little bit about contracts and the silly season for next year, but I thought that would still happen next year. It’s still quite early.

“If I’m to try and extract some positives out of his news it’s that it gives us good confidence for next year. He and his management see a lot of positives in the team to continue like that.

“I’m 100 per cent here next year, I can at least say that, and I think it gives both of us confidence that we’ll keep progressing the way we are.”

Red Bull said upon announcing Verstappen’s new deal that it wants to “build a team around him”, with the 20-year-old standing out as a once-in-a-generation talent.

The focus surrounding Verstappen has not left Ricciardo feeling as though he is in the shade or in any way playing second-fiddle to the Dutchman, stressing he has no internal concerns at Red Bull.

“For sure, as far as media goes, he certainly gets a lot of attention. He’s broken records for his age and things like that, so rightly so,” Ricciardo said.

“Take the media out of it, as far as inside the team, new parts on the car, things like this, there’s always been parity and equality.”

Verstappen is only the third driver to commit to a deal beyond the end of next season, following Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari and Fernando Alonso at McLaren on multi-year contracts.

All 10 F1 teams have at least one free seat for 2019, making Ricciardo a possible candidate for seats with either Mercedes or Ferrari were he to consider a move away from Red Bull.

Speaking to British broadcaster Sky Sports, Red Bull F1 advisor Helmut Marko said he felt Ricciardo was “putting himself on the market” by waiting to make a decision on his future, but that talks would take place when possible.