What F1’s 2012 departures are up to now

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Some of the recent discussion in the Formula 1 world has been the last-minute driver shifting at Force India and Marussia, respectively. Yet while all the rookies and returnees have been named (there are five rookies and the returning Adrian Sutil), here’s a look at the 2013 prospects for those gone from the 2012 grid.

STILL RACING ELSEWHERE

Bruno Senna: The Brazilian’s competitive drive to want to win races, rather than sit sidelined, has seen a shift back to sports cars after his three-year F1 career, most recently with Williams. Senna competed in an LMP1 class ORECA prototype in 2009, and made his 24 Hours of Le Mans debut. This year, he’ll be running the full FIA World Endurance Championship season in a GT class Aston Martin Vantage.

Timo Glock (right): The German’s departure from Marussia triggered the final seat shifting, first to Luiz Razia and now to Jules Bianchi. After a career spent in single-seaters since 2003, Glock moves to tin tops in the DTM, with BMW. Glock was a BMW Sauber F1 test driver at the same time as Sebastian Vettel, and lost out to Vettel in a one-off outing to replace the injured Robert Kubica at Indianapolis in 2007.

COULD STILL RACE

Kamui Kobayashi: F1’s “Mr. Excitement” for Sauber the last few years has tested a Ferrari F458 Italia for the Italian AF Corse team in the WEC, but the team has not made its driver lineup public. Countryman Kazuki Nakajima, also ex-F1, races in the WEC for the Toyota factory prototype team.

Pedro de la Rosa: It’s a long shot he’ll race in F1 once again, but the option is there as the 42-year-old has a new deal as a test driver for Ferrari. Then again, the Spaniard’s career has spanned parts of nine seasons, in three different stints (1999-2002, ’05-’06, ’10-’12), so there’s always a chance.

Narain Karthikeyan: Like his 2012 HRT teammate, Karthikeyan may turn up again and it could be in IndyCar. Karthikeyan has been linked by multiple media outlets to Dale Coyne’s vacant second seat, a seat that is notoriously late to get filled.

UNLIKELY TO RACE

Heikki Kovalainen, Vitaly Petrov, Jerome D’Ambrosio: The 2012 Caterham pair have only been linked to F1 seats and neither raised enough for them to be viable candidates. D’Ambrosio lost the lead Lotus reserve role to 2012 GP2 champion Davide Valsecchi, who has already tested after Kimi Raikkonen’s food poisoning.

Michael Schumacher: F1’s most statistically successful driver may not be in a competitive championship this year but has already made an appearance in karting. Wherever he shows up this year, the news cycle will follow.

Newgarden tries to regain control of IndyCar championship race at Iowa

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NEWTON, Iowa – There are just six races left in the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series championship and Team Penske driver Josef Newgarden has a hard-charging Alexander Rossi closing in on his gearbox. Newgarden’s lead is down to just three points after last Sunday’s Honda Indy Toronto.

Newgarden has been the leader in the standings after every race this season, with the exception of the 103rdIndianapolis 500, when he trailed Team Penske teammate and Indy 500 winner Josef Newgarden by one point.

Is Newgarden worried entering Saturday night’s Iowa 300 at Iowa Speedway?

“I’m confident we have good cars,” Newgarden told NBC Sports.com. “You can have bad weekends here and there. I think we can have a good result the rest of the year. But there are a lot of guys still in it. Rossi is the guy who is the closest, but you can’t count out Simon Pagenaud, Scott Dixon or Will Power. It’s going to be a fight until the end for this championship.

“We briefly lost the points lead after the Indy 500. Simon and I were one point apart. We’ve had better consistency this year. That is what is going to pay off at the end. We’ve been consistent up to this point and we have to continue it to the end.

“Look at all of these championship runs, most of the times it goes to the most consistent driver. You have to have clean finishes for every run. If you don’t, it’s pretty tough to make up the deficit.”

Newgarden has had a remarkably consistent season with three wins, six podiums (top three) and nine top-five finishes in 11 races.

Rossi has nearly matched him with two wins, six podiums and nine top-five finishes in 11 races.

These two drivers are nearly in a dead heat, so as the championship leader, can Newgarden force his fiercest foes into making mistakes?

“I’m a little bit boring,” Newgarden said. “I do the same thing every time. It puts more pressure on guys like Scott Dixon, who has to win races to catch up. They are going to be more aggressive. Our program is boring and that is trying to maximize each race individually. That is what we have to do.

“I don’t know if it is that different than being in a fight with Will Power or Simon Pagenaud or Scott Dixon. They have different tendencies. Alex is the more aggressive of those other drivers. It’s fun going up against all of them. Alex is really good. He has a certain style you have to play against. If it was Scott, it would be just as exciting, but it would be a different game.

“Alex brings a more aggressive side to the conversation.”

That aggressive fight continues to the .875-mile short oval at Iowa Speedway, site of Saturday night’s Iowa 300.

It’s one of Newgarden’s better tracks. He set an IndyCar Series record for leading the most laps in a single race when he was in front for 282 laps in his 2016 Iowa win with Ed Carpenter Racing. That was preceded by two straight second place finishes at Iowa in 2014 and 2014.

Since joining Team Penske in 2017, Newgarden finished sixth that season and fourth in 2018 in a race where he led 211 laps.

“We were pretty good there last year,” Newgarden admitted. “We qualified well, but we were a little shy of what we needed last year. The race didn’t pan out the way we needed it to. Our strategy wasn’t perfect there. But those are things we can clean up. We have a really capable group. I think we’ll have a good car there, again. I feel good about it. We’ve had good cars there in the past, we were just a tick off. I think we will be better there this year.

“We should be fine.”

Short oval racing is a unique form that adds diversity to the schedule as drivers have to get on an off the accelerator and on and off the brake, all while dealing with traffic throughout the 300-lap contest.

It’s that type of close quarter racing that real racers love.

“Iowa, for sure is a racer’s track,” Newgarden said. “It’s very bumpy, with a lot of character. It’s one of my favorite short ovals that we go to. I love that place. A lot of the tracks we go to are racer’s race tracks. There aren’t a lot of bad ones of the schedule. There are tracks with diverse challenges and you like that. Going from Toronto to Iowa to Mid-Ohio, they are all different tracks that require different setups, different driving styles.

“It’s like the championship is a driver’s championship. That is what it demands.”

An NTT IndyCar Series race at Iowa Speedway is a special experience because it’s played out in front of grass-roots racing fans. These are the fans that following auto racing on a regular basis, many of which are regulars for sprint car racing down the road at Knoxville Speedway in Knoxville, Iowa.

“They are all different race fans,” Newgarden said. “Toronto has a bustling city vibe. Iowa is a bunch of farmers. Really nice people who are salt of the earth farmers who come out and enjoy racing. Mid-Ohio is a hybrid. It’s very much a Midwest race but different from Iowa.

“You get these different pockets of different fans, different people, different racers but they all like IndyCar racing and that’s pretty cool.”