Not a happy homecoming for Alonso as Ferrari struggles in Spain

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Fernando Alonso has recorded his worst finish at the Spanish Grand Prix in over five years after finishing today’s race down in sixth place.

Not since he retired from the 2009 event when racing for Renault has Alonso finished so far down the order at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. For races he actually finished, it was his worst result since his debut season with Minardi back in 2001 when he came 13th.

However, it was all that he could manage today. The F14 T car was well off the pace once again, and he was unable to prevent Sebastian Vettel from passing him in the closing stages of the race. A strategy error with Kimi Raikkonen did allow the Spaniard to pass his teammate, but it was not a good day for the team.

“Of course I’d have liked to have done better here in my home race, but I knew right from the start that it would be difficult,” Alonso explained. “Our pace was too slow compared to the leaders and on top of that, not making up any places at the start didn’t help.

“The gap to the best is nothing new and today’s result confirms the fact our rivals are strong on both the performance and the reliability fronts, but until it is mathematically impossible to catch them we will continue to believe and do all we can to catch up.”

Kimi Raikkonen – a two-time winner in Spain – was left helpless to defend from Alonso and Vettel in the dying stages of the race after a strategic error on the Ferrari pit wall cost him dearly.

“Going for a two stop strategy proved to be the wrong choice because tire degradation meant I couldn’t push all the way to the end,” he explained. “Overall here, we went better than in the last race, maybe because the characteristics of this track are very different to those we have raced on so far.

“We cannot be happy with sixth and seventh places, because we are a long way off where we want to be.

“It will take time, but we will do our utmost, because we know where we must keep pushing if we want to improve.”

It has been a terrible start for Ferrari in 2014. The ‘dream team’ of Alonso and Raikkonen has failed to deliver so far, scoring just one podium finish between them. However, both drivers have won world championships for a reason, and once the team is on top of its problems, it should return towards the front of the field in no time.

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.