IndyCar: Winning’s been a curse, not a blessing, over last six races

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We took a look last week into the points at the end of the Verizon IndyCar Series’ marathon six race in four weekend stretch.

But there was another intriguing observation that’s come out of the last six races: winning a race has been something of a curse for the following rounds.

Since Carlos Huertas took a surprise win in Houston race one, the race winner has only recorded one top-five finish in the subsequent races since (Simon Pagenaud’s fourth place in Toronto race one).

Take a look at the last six winners, and their results since those wins:

  • Carlos Huertas: Won Houston Race 1, then 23rd, 20th, 20th, 14th, 15th
  • Simon Pagenaud: Won Houston Race 2, then 6th, 11th, 4th, 22nd
  • Juan Pablo Montoya: Won Pocono, then 16th, 18th, 19th
  • Ryan Hunter-Reay: Won Iowa, then 21st, 14th
  • Sebastien Bourdais, Won Toronto Race 1, then 9th
  • Mike Conway: Won Toronto Race 2 … ?

Those six have followed the three other winners this season, in Ed Carpenter (Texas), Helio Castroneves and Will Power (the two Detroit races).

So we’ve had the nine winners this season win each of the last nine races. But winning itself has, coincidentally, been one of the worst things for drivers in subsequent races.

It’s largely been due to mechanical issues, incidents or circumstances outside the drivers’ control.

It’s a weird and bizarre run of results, but something to note heading into the Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course this weekend.

F1 2017 driver review: Kimi Raikkonen

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Kimi Raikkonen

Team: Scuderia Ferrari
Car No.: 7
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 7
Best Finish: P2 (Monaco, Hungary)
Pole Positions: 1
Fastest Laps: 2
Points: 205
Laps Led: 40
Championship Position: 4th

While this may have statistically been Kimi Raikkonen’s best campaign since his first year back in F1 in 2012, there is a good case for it being one of his most disappointing to date.

Raikkonen’s continued role at Ferrari has been questioned on a number of occasions, but the Finn looked capable of answering his critics heading into 2017 after impressing through pre-season testing as he appeared to get to grips well with the new-style cars.

But we soon grew accustomed to the same old story: flashes of potential, but otherwise an underwhelming, unsatisfactory campaign that saw Raikkonen be dwarfed by his teammate, Sebastian Vettel.

Raikkonen’s charge to his first pole position for over eight years in Monaco gave hope of a popular win, only for Ferrari to play its strategy in favor of title contender Vettel – why wouldn’t the team do so? – to leave him a disgruntled second.

While Vettel was able to impress at the majority of circuits, Raikkonen only looked strong at tracks that were unquestionably ‘Ferrari’ tracks, such as Hungary and Brazil. Like Vettel, Raikkonen should have racked up a good haul of points in Singapore, only for the start-line crash to sideline both Ferraris before they even reached Turn 1.

Again there is the question of ‘what could have been?’ in Malaysia had it not been for the spark plug issue on the grid, yet in Japan, Raikkonen was nowhere, finishing behind the Mercedes and Red Bulls.

Finishing just five points clear of Daniel Ricciardo despite having a much faster car for the best part of the season and the Red Bull driver’s own reliability issues sums up the disappointment of Raikkonen’s campaign.

He should have been an ally for Vettel in the title race by nicking points of Lewis Hamilton, much as Valtteri Bottas was doing for his Mercedes teammate. Instead, Raikkonen seemed to be tagging along for the best part of this season.

Season High: Pole in Monaco, his first since the 2008 French Grand Prix.

Season Low: Finishing a distant P4 at Spa – a circuit he made his own in the 2000s.