Ed Carpenter Racing ended 2012 on a high, as owner/driver Ed Carpenter posted his best ever road or street course qualifying result in Baltimore, then won the season finale at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana.
For year two of the program, Carpenter seeks increased speed to go along with his reliability that was a good part of 2012. He finished 14 of 15 races, Baltimore incidentally the only exception as he contacted the wall.
Team manager Derrick Walker expanded on what team and driver need to do in the group’s second year.
“We sat down at the end of the season and asked where we should focus our resources and all of our energy to be more successful in 2013,” Walker said. “The team has executed that flawlessly in the winter, and we are anxious to see that focus show up at the race track. I think we have done a good job of maximizing our human resources and our intelligence over the winter.”
Carpenter’s innate strength has always been on the ovals. Walker noted how Carpenter was close to wins in both 500-mile oval races – Carpenter ran in the top three late at the Indianapolis 500 before a spin – and has another full year of road and street course racing under his belt.
“The focus now has all been about speed,” Walker said. “I think he has come a long way in that area. We worked with Vision Racing a while back and he has improved quite bit from those days. We have a former driver, Lee Bentham, a former Atlantic champion, who helps us. Lee is very good as a spotter and he assisted Ed in certain areas. Ed has benefited from just hard work and the feedback he receives from Lee. Road circuits are not our stronger suit right now. But we are improving.”
Not only has Bentham aided Carpenter’s road and street course development, but ECR also has worked in partnership with Andretti Autosport this offseason. Ryan Hunter-Reay drove Carpenter’s car for a few laps at a test in Sonoma at the end of February.
Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States
Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed its new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with Ford Motor Co. in an event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and team principal Christian Horner.
It’s the first Formula 1 team to launch in the United States for 2023, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.
“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”
In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.
With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.
In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.
“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.
“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”
Now Verstappen’s thoughts inevitably will turn to establishing a dynasty, and America will again play a pivotal role.
“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said. “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”
Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his chief rival for the championship.
“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.
“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”
Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.