Hulman-George family told to keep IndyCar, IMS

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According to the Associated Press, the Boston Consulting Group has suggested that the Hulman-George family retain possession of both IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

BCG was hired following the end of the 2012 IndyCar season to assess the series and the legendary race track, and to offer ideas on how to strengthen them in the years ahead. Per the AP, suggestions from the group — which the family is under no obligation to follow — range from a 15-race IndyCar schedule over 19 weeks to a three-race playoff with a season finale on the IMS road course.

Also in the report were ideas from focus groups on how IndyCar could distinguish itself from other series — particularly NASCAR, which has fallen from its lofty heights in the early to mid-2000s but still remains America’s most popular form of racing by a considerable margin.

“Focus groups suggested that marketing strategies should be geared to ‘positioning IndyCar as having the most skilled, daredevil drivers and not theatrical off-track personalities,'” the AP’s Jenna Fryer wrote. “They indicated they valued fast cars over science and engineering; winning over points challenges; suspense through lead changes over entertainment through crashes; and the diversity of track types rather than ovals.”

Fryer also wrote that BCG called IndyCar “the best pure racing motorsports league in the U.S….but the series suffers from lack of awareness.”

As for the Brickyard itself,  BCG has suggested more use of the facility (only 21 of the 132 days the track was used in 2012 were for “major-revenue generating events”) and a reworking of its ticket price tiers.

F1: Red Bull Racing confirms switch to Honda engines next season

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Honda will become Red Bull’s engine supplier from next season after the Formula One team confirmed its anticipated split with Renault on Tuesday.

The Japanese manufacturer will supply engines for 2019 and 2020, and Red Bull team principal Christian Horner hailed the deal as “an exciting new phase” in the bid to return to the top of F1.

“After careful consideration and evaluation, we are certain this partnership with Honda is the right direction for the team,” Horner said in a team statement. “We have been impressed by Honda’s commitment to F1, by the rapid steps they have made in recent times with our (feeder) team Toro Rosso.”

It is a boost for Honda, which was unceremoniously dumped by McLaren at the end of last year.

Honda has started this season brightly as engine provider for Toro Rosso, and this may have been a key factor in Red Bull finally ditching Renault.

“Honda’s alignment with both Red Bull Formula One teams provides enormous potential,” Horner said. “Honda will have access to a wealth of data from both outfits, with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing leading the way, and the opportunities for faster, more effective and more competitive development are doubled.”

The deal brings to an end Red Bull’s 12-year partnership with Renault.

Although relations became increasingly strained between the two parties in recent years, it was once a dream partnership as Red Bull and Renault won four straight drivers’ and constructors’ championships with Sebastian Vettel behind the wheel from 2010-13.

During that glory era, Vettel and teammate Mark Webber won 47 grand prix. Since 2013, results have somewhat dried up and there have been only 10 race wins.

“We have sometimes had our differences but Renault has always worked tirelessly and to the best of its ability to provide us with a competitive power unit,” Horner said.

He was not always quite so complimentary about Renault. He has regularly and publicly criticized Renault’s reliability in recent years – although it has been hard to judge sometimes.

Red Bull showed good speed toward the end of last season when Max Verstappen won two races, and teammate Daniel Ricciardo won this season’s Chinese GP with a brilliant drive. The difference in speed between Red Bull and Mercedes appears less than before, although Ferrari remains noticeably quicker.

Verstappen’s form has picked up after a poor start to 2018, marred by crashes, and he has taken third place in two of the past three races.

Meanwhile, McLaren’s partnership with Renault has not been as successful as they anticipated after dropping Honda following three fruitless seasons together.

Two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso has failed to finish the past two races and has yet to place higher than fifth. Renault teammate Nico Hulkenberg has a best finish of fourth place.