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.
DiZinno says: The good, the bad and the ugly yet again for Sato in his fourth IndyCar season and third different team. The switch to Foyt brought out his best at the outset with the Long Beach win, the second at Brazil (even despite some questionable defending maneuvers), the near win at Milwaukee and the pole on the team’s home soil in Houston. He was probably Honda’s best shot the first half of the season before Ganassi and others got their act turned around. And then really from about Detroit on, it was “bad Taku” yet again, wreck after wreck after wreck that tested the team’s resolve, patience and budget. Sato finished only nine of 19 races this year and is likely, but not guaranteed, to return to Foyt’s squad next year.
Estrada says: Sato’s inaugural IndyCar win at Long Beach and runner-up at Sao Paulo had the A.J. Foyt Racing team atop the standings going into the Indy 500. And while he was unable to keep that lead, he still had a great first half. But after Milwaukee, things got real bad really fast for the ex-Formula One driver with nine DNFs in the final 10 races – a stretch that surely annoyed A.J. and his son/team manager, Larry. Even their pole-winning moment for Houston Race 1 went awry, with Sato going into the tires late before falling out a short time later with handling issues. A note: Sato’s competed in 68 races over the course of his IndyCar career, but has DNF’d in 29 of them (42.6 percent).
Diaz (right) is another prototype class veteran, with recent PC experience (8Star Motorsports and PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports) added to his LMP2 days with Fernandez Racing.
All three of them also competed in Champ Car World Series races in Mexico City, with Gonzalez and Diaz part of a six-Mexican driver entry in the 2003 race (Adrian Fernandez, Michel Jourdain Jr., Mario Dominguez and Rodolfo Lavin).
Ricardo Gonzalez co-drives the No. 43 RGR Sport Ligier JS P2 Nissan with Bruno Senna and Filipe Albuquerque in the WEC.
Around two-thirds of the Formula E grid also race in the WEC, with the two championships preventing clashes so that drivers do not have to pick between them. As a result, it seems inevitable that one of the races will have to change date.
Jolyon Palmer felt “gutted” after a likely top-10 finish in Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix was lost following a spin in the closing stages, costing him his first Formula 1 points.
2014 GP2 champion Palmer joined Renault for its return to F1 as a constructor in 2016, but arrived in Hungary without a point to his name from the opening 10 races of the season.
Palmer was left disappointed on Saturday after a red flag knocked him out of qualifying at the first hurdle, but a long first stint brought him into contention for points.
Palmer moved into the top 10 after jumping Nico Hulkenberg in the pits, only for Renault’s hard work to be undone when he spun off at Turn 4, losing three positions in the process.
The Briton was ultimately classified 12th after Esteban Gutierrez’s time penalty, extending his points drought to 11 races.
“I’m gutted as my first points in Formula 1 were there for the taking,” Palmer said.
“The car was good and I was driving well within myself in P10. I turned in the same as normal at turn four – I wasn’t hanging everything out and I was looking after the tires – but for some reason I lost the car in a massive snap.
“I need to look at everything with my engineers to see if there is anything we could have done to prevent it.
“I was running tenth, we had completed all our pit stops, we had good pace relative to those ahead and behind so it looks like we’ve made a real step forward this weekend.
“It was the best drive of my career today and just one small spin took away those points.
“I’m gutted today but I’ll be fighting to get in the same position or better in Hockenheim.”