Changes will be made to the current Indianapolis 500 qualifying format, as Curt Cavin of The Indianapolis Star is now reporting that Pole Day will be shifted from its traditional Saturday afternoon spot to Sunday, May 18.
According to Cavin, IndyCar Series officials were hoping to have final details on the changes presented during this week’s winter meetings in Indianapolis with drivers and teams. However, that will not be the case.
Since the 2010 season, Pole Day on Saturday has featured the top 24 positions on the starting grid being set, with the exercise culminating with the pole-determining “Fast Nine” shootout for the top nine drivers.
However, Pole Day excitement on Saturday has been giving way to Bump Day boredom on Sunday. In each of the last two years, there have been no instances of bumping, as the final nine positions on the grid have been filled with very little drama (see last year’s Bump Day report here).
That won’t do for Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles, who has made revitalizing the Month of May one of his biggest priorities during his tenure. On May 10, the IndyCar Series will stage their inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the reconfigured Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course as a kickoff to preparations for the “500” on May 25.
At a sports marketing forum in Las Vegas this past December, Miles foreshadowed changes for Indy’s qualifying weekend that “some will think are heresy and some will think are tweaking.”
It appears we now know at least one of those changes. We’ll see if more comes down in the near-future.
On Monday, the Formula 1 schedule finally allowed teams to be in Europe before heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s season finale.
And as such, that provided a window for now four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to return to the Mercedes AMG Petronas factories in Brackley and Brixworth to be celebrated for taking the driver’s title, as Hamilton an Valtteri Bottas delivered Mercedes its fourth straight constructor’s title.
Hamilton was at Brixworth, the home of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and its highly successful Mercedes-Benz Power Units first before heading to Brackley, where he was welcomed with a “guard of honor” as the entire team came out to greet him.
The champion was overwhelmed at the response and the welcome.
“This a very emotional day. I was not expecting this, thanks everyone for the warm welcome,” he said. “Today is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me – I’m blown away.
“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone. I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me. Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100%, which encourages me to bring my best performance.
“Thank you all for helping me achieve my dreams, it would not have been possible without you. This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had – that just makes it so much greater.”
A social roundup of images and videos are below, all via Hamilton and the Mercedes team on social media.