F1 Grand Prix of Germany - Qualifying

Grosjean coy on future, says Alonso is key to F1 driver market


Romain Grosjean remained coy when asked today about where his future in Formula 1 lies, with the Frenchman believing that Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso holds the key to the driver market for the 2015 season.

Despite stating in an interview this week that he is not actively looking to leave Ferrari, Alonso is known to be a target for McLaren ahead of its new partnership with Honda in 2015.

For Grosjean, a move away from Lotus may be possible given that he is without a firm contract for next season, but he said that there has not been much discussion up to now.

“It’s been quite quiet. So far, nothing crazy,” he said when asked about any movement on his future.

“I think you have to wait for Ferrari and probably Alonso. From them, the market will move.

“I’m sure you’re aware as much as I am, if not more, and so far nothing has moved much. You can always speculate. From what I know, everyone has a contract in the other big teams. Alonso is the key of the market.”

Grosjean confirmed that his management has been in preliminary talks with other teams, but nothing surefire had been decided.

“There are always talks and that’s for the managers,” he said. “Yes, there have been a few talks, but so far you just have to wait.”

As for this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix? Grosjean does not think that Lotus can expect to be fighting too far forward at Monza, given that the high-speed nature of the circuit will exploit the major weaknesses of the E22 car.

“I don’t think there’s much we can do,” he said. “We have special wings for here, we have new updates from the power unit side, so we’re gonna do our best.

“Top speed hasn’t been a strength for the E22, and low speed corners neither, so this is the worst of both worlds. On paper, it’s not going to be an easy one, but it’s always our job to try and get the best and see what it brings.”

Grosjean’s career has turned around 180º over the past eighteen months. At Silverstone last year, Mark Webber coined the verb “Grosjeaned”, meaning to crash into after an incident at the first corner. However, he has since flourished, scoring five podium finishes in the second half of last season.

In 2014, he has clearly struggled with the troublesome E22 car, but has been Lotus’ team leader. If Ferrari does indeed part company with Alonso, Grosjean is a serious option for the Italian marque to consider.

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Ryan Hunter-Reay

Ryan Hunter-Reay
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MotorSportsTalk continues its look through the Verizon IndyCar Series field. Finishing sixth in 2015 after a late rally was Ryan Hunter-Reay, the 2012 series champion and 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner.

Ryan Hunter-Reay, No. 28 Andretti Autosport Honda

  • 2014: 6th Place, 3 Wins, 1 Pole, 6 Podiums, 6 Top-5, 9 Top-10, 195 Laps Led, 10.2 Avg. Start, 10.9 Avg. Finish
  • 2015: 6th Place, 2 Wins, Best Start 3rd, 3 Podiums, 4 Top-5, 7 Top-10, 71 Laps Led, 12.2 Avg. Start, 10.4 Avg. Finish

The old adage “it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish” would probably be the best way to sum up Ryan Hunter-Reay’s 2015 season, which until the final quarter of season could best be described as a forgettable nightmare.

The first three races seemed somewhat OK, with eighth, seventh and fourth place grid spots. But none of the three produced a result of note; Hunter-Reay was also caught up in the three-car, late race accident at NOLA Motorsports Park and didn’t bank any good finish until a fifth place at Barber the end of April.

A tailspin followed. Hunter-Reay started between 14th and 21st every race between the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and Milwaukee – a stretch of eight races – and only had one top-10 finish in that stint, eighth at the rain-affected lottery that was Detroit race two. Some seasons are just ones you want to end and by Milwaukee it was obvious that Hunter-Reay was racing just to get to the end of the year, without things getting any worse.

Things finally came good with a typically good drive at Iowa and arguably one of the drives of his career, two races later at Pocono, to end with two wins and extend his streak of winning a race in each of his six seasons at Andretti Autosport. It was no coincidence, either, that Hunter-Reay’s uptick in form came with the return of the late Justin Wilson’s presence in a fourth car.

After Pocono, Hunter-Reay also drove well to finish second at Sonoma, and by that point he’d completed an incredible late-season turnaround to jump from 14th to sixth in points. But if asked, he’d probably admit this was his toughest season yet at Andretti and arguably his toughest overall since his 2009 season, when he was in-between full-time rides and saw out the year with Vision Racing and A.J. Foyt Enterprises.

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Helio Castroneves

Helio Castroneves
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MotorSportsTalk continues its look through the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series field with fifth-placed Helio Castroneves.

Helio Castroneves, No. 3 Team Penske Chevrolet

  • 2014: 2nd Place, 1 Win, 3 Poles, 6 Podiums, 7 Top-5, 10 Top-10, 282 Laps Led, 5.7 Avg. Start, 9.3 Avg. Finish
  • 2015: 5th Place, Best Finish 2nd, 4 Poles, 5 Podiums, 6 Top-5, 9 Top-10, 198 Laps Led, 4.9 Avg. Start, 9.3 Avg. Finish

Much as you’d write about his fellow countryman and longtime friend and rival Tony Kanaan, age hasn’t slowed Helio Castroneves, but it’s instead fueled continued success. And while Castroneves went winless for only the second time (2011) in his illustrious 16-year career with Team Penske, he wasn’t down on performance.

Now 40, Castroneves continued to have several shining moments in 2015, which was particularly important to do to stand out against defending champion Will Power, this year’s primary title contender Juan Pablo Montoya and new driver Simon Pagenaud.

Castroneves scored four pole positions and boasted a 4.9 averaging starting position, second in the field to Power, which was very impressive to note. His run of form from Texas through Milwaukee, capturing three podiums in four races, was his best race stretch this season. Additional highlights included back-to-back runner-up results in the NOLA lottery and then on pure pace at Long Beach.

The month of May must though be viewed as a disappointment. Castroneves played a role in the first corner mess at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and got a points penalty (although the number was dropped) as a result. Then he endured another Indianapolis 500 where he was not the out-and-out fastest car in the Penske brigade. While Montoya and Power were dueling for the win and Pagenaud had speed to burn all month, Castroneves’ lone moment of note came with his accident in practice, which mercifully he emerged unscathed from.

As ever though, fifth in this field owed to his consistency and dogged determination to succeed. Castroneves has ended top-five in seven of the last eight seasons since the IRL/Champ Car merger in 2008 and if it wasn’t for Dixon’s top-three run hogging the headlines, we’d probably appreciate Castroneves even more so. As long as he’s continually competitive, he’s still worthy at Team Penske.