Kvyat follows up debut points run with encore in Malaysia

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Russian rookie Daniil Kvyat of Scuderia Toro Rosso is two-for-two in points scoring appearances in his first two Grands Prix.

“It’s good to finish in the top ten for a second time in a row now. This afternoon’s race was very difficult and intense with a lot of fighting,” said the 19-year-old. “The first two stints were hard when I was fighting the Williams and McLaren in the early stages, but they were faster than me on the straight. I was quite happy with the final stint and having managed to defend my position.”

The quick growth for Kvyat will see him advance from a track he never raced at before (Melbourne) to one where he has (Sepang) and now one where he’s tested with this car (Bahrain).

“Overall it was a good weekend and I hope we continue to improve like this as the car definitely has potential,” he said. “So I’m looking forward to going straight to Bahrain to race again in a week’s time. It will be interesting to be on a track where we have actually tested with this car.”

A potential third straight Malaysian GP points appearance for teammate Jean-Eric Vergne ended with power unit issues, but the Frenchman rued a missed opportunity.

“I think I had a great start today but very soon I felt some problems with the car,” said “JEV.” “I lost power in the car and I just saw everybody overtaking me. Then I found myself in a sandwich between a Caterham and (Jules) Bianchi and maybe I was a bit too ambitious to think I could try and pass the two cars. It was just not possible and this resulted in the collision, which damaged my front wing.

“At this point I knew that my race was compromised, so I was hoping for some rain and maybe a safety car to change the cards on the table and re-join the pack. But then I continued to suffer with the car and my race was over. It’s really a shame, as this was a race in which we could have been strong and achieve a good result.”

Ahead of Bahrain next weekend, the team looks to match up with one of its best ever qualifying results, a sixth achieved by ex-STR driver Daniel Ricciardo in 2012.

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.