Red Bull trims Junior team to three drivers

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Red Bull’s motorsports program announced a three-driver group for its Junior team in 2014 that includes Carlos Sainz, Jr. and newcomers Alex Lynn (pictured) and Pierre Gasly.

Gasly, 17, and Sainz, 19, will both compete in the World Series by Renault, while Lynn, 20, is slated to race in the GP3 series for the Carlin team – a team that has shepherded multiple Red Bull Junior drivers through the years, including four-time reigning Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel.

Lynn emerges from the FIA European Formula 3 series, where he finished third in this year’s championship with three wins. One of those victories came in Formula 3’s most important race, the Macau Grand Prix.

“I think that it is obviously fantastic to be privileged enough to join the team that has produced so many Formula One drivers and that includes the greatest driver of our generation so far,” Lynn said of his accomplishment in a Red Bull release.

As for Gasly, he moves to the WSR after winning the championship in the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup category with three wins along the way. He will race for the Arden team.

“It is the best news that I could have at the end of the season because for next year I have all the best people around me to focus on my performance,” Gasly said in the same release.

“For next year I think that the goal is clear, I have seen from this year and previous seasons that it is possible to do a good job in the first season so the goal is to win the championship.”

Then there’s Sainz Jr., who will now solely focus on the WSR after splitting his 2013 season between there and GP3. He will suit up for DAMS, the same squad that helped Kevin Magnussen win this year’s series title before his elevation to F1 with McLaren.

A tough act to follow for sure, but Sainz believes he’s up to the task – especially now that he’ll only have one series to worry about.

“I think that it can be a very good thing, just to focus on one series and try to get the most out of it instead of trying to do several championships in different cars,” he said for Red Bull.

“I’ll be focusing only on this category and be trying to win it because I know that if I do well it can be very good for my future.”

IndyCar 2017 driver review: Ed Carpenter

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MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. The 2017 season behind the wheel was better for Ed Carpenter than either of the last two years, but still wasn’t ideal results-wise in his six oval starts.

Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

  • 2016: 25th Place (5 Starts), Best Finish 18th, Best Start 5th, 0 Top-5, 0 Top-10, 1 Lap Led, 11.2 Avg. Start, 21.8 Avg. Finish
  • 2017: 22nd Place (6 Starts), Best Finish 7th, Best Start 2nd, 0 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 11.3 Avg. Start, 12.3 Avg. Finish

Ed Carpenter’s 2017 season was largely one of frustration, both behind the wheel and as a team owner.

While a respectable turnaround in results occurred – Carpenter finished between seventh and 12th in five of his six oval races after a nightmare season of ending 18th or worse in each of his 2016 starts – this is still not what he sets out to strive for in the races he does. Lost opportunities loomed larger than any official result he or the Ed Carpenter Racing team achieved.

Carpenter and new teammate JR Hildebrand, in for the departed Josef Newgarden, dominated preseason testing in Phoenix but Hildebrand could only muster third in the race, Carpenter a season-best seventh. Then at Indianapolis, Carpenter (second) and Hildebrand (sixth) flew the flag for Chevrolet in qualifying and practice pace, but they fell to 11th and 16th on race day owing to a front-wing change and late-race penalty for passing before a restart.

Both drivers got collected in incidents at Texas. Hildebrand qualified and finished a season-best second in Iowa but that result came only after the ECR crew rebuilt his car from a crash in practice. Then Carpenter had a practice crash in Pocono and despite a rapid rebuild, they missed the clock to qualify by mere minutes and were unable to do so. Carpenter’s spin on a slick Gateway track at the start of the race sent him over Will Power’s nose assembly in one of the scarier looking incidents of the year, although fortunately he was OK.

In a similar refrain as we often write, it’s not that Carpenter’s lost his ability to drive and he remains one of the series’ savviest and smartest people in the paddock. There have been a lot of extenuating circumstances of late, and it almost felt as though this team had “empty nest” components. Since September, Carpenter has had to secure his team’s future with a move away from its Speedway, Ind. shop, line up Spencer Pigot for a full-time drive replacing Hildebrand in the No. 21 car, find a new road/street course driver in the No. 20 car, and manage both driving and owning himself.