Franchitti: “It’s going to take a while to get back to normal”

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Three-time Indianapolis 500 and four-time IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti is continuing to recover his fitness after his devastating, career-ending crash last fall at the Shell/Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston.

Franchitti suffered a fractured ankle, two broken vertebrae, and a concussion in the crash, which took place on the final lap in Race 2 of the October doubleheader at Reliant Park. In November, he announced that he would be forced to retire because of the extent of those injuries.

In comments made to the Edinburgh (Scotland) Evening News, Franchitti revealed that he’s been cleared to drive a road car again but indicated that he still has a long way to go in his recovery efforts.

“I still limp quite badly,” he said. “I can’t run but I can ride my bike and get on the rowing machine. As for walking around, I’m still a wee bit restricted.

“My head, well, I just get tired. That’s the difficult part, the one thing they can’t quantify, so you have to be very careful. The brain is such a big unknown because they still don’t understand it.

“My brain is still pretty damaged and it’s going to take a while to get back to normal.”

Franchitti has stayed on with Target Chip Ganassi Racing in an advisory role. The Scotsman won two of his three Indy 500s and three of his four IndyCar titles with TCGR in his driving career.

He told the Evening News that he’s looking forward to a “fascinating” role as an ambassador for the sport, but that he still wishes he could be in the cockpit again.

He also said his thoughts were with seven-time Formula One World Champion Michael Schumacher, who remains in a medically induced coma after suffering head injuries in a skiing accident late last December.

“His situation is just terrible – the guy lived his whole life up to that point on the absolute limit and then that happens,” Franchitti said.

Brown: Dennis would have made same decision on McLaren-Honda split

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Zak Brown believes former McLaren team boss Ron Dennis would have made the same decision to cut ties with struggling Formula 1 engine partner Honda had he still been in charge at the team in 2017.

McLaren executive director Brown helped engineer a deal for the team to split with Honda at the end of the 2017 season after three tough seasons that had seen the Japanese manufacturer offer little in the way of performance or reliability.

The decision split opinion, with McLaren spurning a significant annual financial injection from Honda in order to link up with Renault, believing its on-track fortunes had to be prioritized over its commercial interests.

In an interview with Sky Sports, Brown was asked if he believed Dennis – McLaren’s long-running team chief before stepping down at the end of 2016 – would have made the same decision to cut ties with Honda.

“I think he would have,” Brown said.

“He was here when those conversations were ongoing and I think Ron always has and always will have the best interests of McLaren in his heart.

“He is Mr. McLaren. It burns him inside as much as us not to see us winning races.”

Brown also elaborated on the decision to break off the much-lauded relationship with Honda, saying the first signs of trouble with the 2017 power unit were clear in pre-season.

After a number of attempts to try and rectify the situation, Brown and his fellow team bosses felt there was no alternative but to end the Honda deal for 2018.

“We knew we were in trouble in testing in Barcelona and we worked really hard for six months to try and find solutions that would give us confidence that we’d be much more competitive in 2018,” Brown said.

“Ultimately, after trying many different things and many different ways we felt we couldn’t get there.

“Three years is a long time in Formula 1 and so we needed to change the direction to get our team back at the top.”