Caterham owner rejects early withdrawal rumors

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Caterham F1 Team owner Tony Fernandes has rubbished rumors suggesting that the team might pull out of Formula 1 before next weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix, saying that “there is no question” about its future.

Caterham has been languishing at the back of the grid ever since its entry to Formula 1 in 2010, and Fernandes said at the beginning of the year that if the situation did not improve, he would consider selling the team.

A report in the Malaysian media suggested that the Caterham brand was set to be put up for sale, only for Fernandes to reject the rumors. This week, a story on German website SpeedWeek said that budgetary problems could bring the team to a halt immediately, but once again Fernandes has rubbished the notion.

“Caterham F1 will be racing in Austria,” he tweeted. “There is no question.”

The team showed zero sign of making the Canadian Grand Prix its last, and the rumors did not appear to have much support, hence why they came as such a surprise.

MotorSportsTalk chatted to the team’s test driver, Alexander Rossi, in Montreal, and he expressed his eagerness to get back behind the wheel of the team’s GP2 car in Austria, as well as his excitement for another practice session in the F1 car in Austin later this year. In no way was the idea of an early withdrawal even considered, let alone spoken about, with Rossi or the other team members.

The last team to pull out of Formula 1 mid-season was Super Aguri in 2008. However, its withdrawal came as little surprise, with the team accepting that the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona was its last.

As Fernandes said, Caterham will definitely be in Austria next weekend, and the team will be working to cut the gap to nearest-rivals Marussia at the back of the grid.

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.