Domenicali calm after maximizing Canada result

Leave a comment

Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali was reflective and calm after the team maximized the result it could get from the Canadian Grand Prix.

Fernando Alonso did everything to ensure second place was on the cards from sixth on the grid, while Felipe Massa recovered from his qualifying crash to score four points for eighth place.

All things considered, it could have been much worse, Domenicali told Sky Sports in a Q&A.

“But when you have such a strong qualifying, then you can have this situation,” he said of Sebastian Vettel’s domination over the weekend. “Of course this was not the case for us because when you are stuck behind you cannot attack and second was really all we could do.”

Alonso ran the Pirelli tires flat out in Spain, needing to make four pit stops, and left his rivals in the dust. But in Montreal, at least two stops were the norm and Paul di Resta even completed the race on just one, with a switch from the mediums to the supersofts.

“That is the funny thing about Formula 1,” Domenicali noted. “I remember some teams were keen to change something many days ago, but now it seems perfect. You know my style, stay cool and relaxed and not overreact after a session.

“This is part of this game and it is something for our engineers to understand – sometimes we understand it better than the others, sometimes it is the other way round – but this is the challenge we have to face this year.”

Although Domenicali said the Ferrari needs to improve on pure pace – it still trails the Red Bull – he doesn’t wish any ill will on the German, at least publically, for Alonso to close the 36-point gap heading into the summer stretch of races back in Europe.

“For sure if it happened I would not be crying, but because I am a sporting man I would not wish him to have problems. I believe that he has been very consistent up until now, but this year things can change very quickly – if he has a difficult race then things can change again.”

Coyne transitioning from underdog to Indy 500 threat

Photo: IndyCar
Leave a comment

For most of the team’s existence, Dale Coyne Racing has been the Chicago Cubs of American Open Wheel Racing – a team whose history was more defined by failures, at times comically so, than success.

The last decade, however, has seen the tide completely change. In 2007, they scored three podium finishes with Bruno Junqueira. In 2009, they won at Watkins Glen with the late Justin Wilson.

The combination won again at Texas Motor Speedway in 2012, and finished sixth in the 2013 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. That same year, Mike Conway took a shock win for them in Race 1 at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit.

Carlos Huertas scored an upset win for them in Race 1 at the Houston double-header in 2014, and while 2015 and 2016 yielded no wins, Tristan Vautier and Conor Daly gave them several strong runs – Vautier’s best finish was fourth in Race 2 at Detroit, while Daly finished second in Race 1 at Detroit, finished fourth at Watkins Glen, and scored a trio of sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Race 2 at Detroit, and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

And 2017 was set to possibly be the best year the team has ever had. Sebastien Bourdais gave the team a popular win in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and then rookie Ed Jones scored back-to-back top tens – 10th and sixth – at St. Pete and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to start his career.

But, things started unraveling at the Indianapolis 500. Bourdais appeared set to be in the Fast Nine Pole Shootout during his first qualifying run – both of his first two laps were above 231 mph –  before his horrifying crash in Turn 2.

While Jones qualified an impressive 11th and finished an even more impressive third, results for the rest of the season became hard to come by – Jones only scored two more Top 10s, with a best result of seventh at Road America.

But, retooled for 2018, the Coyne team is a legitimate threat at the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Bourdais, whose No. 18 Honda features new sponsorship from SealMaster and now ownership partners in Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan, has a win already, again at St. Pete, and sits third in the championship.

And Bourdais may also be Honda’s best hope, given that he was the fastest Honda in qualifying – he’ll start fifth behind Ed Carpenter, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, and Josef Newgarden.

“I think it speaks volumes about their work, their passion and their dedication to this program, Dale (Coyne), Jimmy (Vasser) and Sulli (James Sullivan) and everybody from top to bottom. I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity, for the support,” Bourdais said of the team’s effort.

Rookie Zachary Claman De Melo has been progressing nicely, and his Month of May has been very solid – he finished 12th at the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS Road Course and qualified a strong 13th for the “500.”

“It’s been surreal to be here as rookie. I’m a bit at a loss for words,” Claman De Melo revealed after qualifying. “The fans, driving around this place, being with the team, everything is amazing. I have a great engineer, a great group of experienced mechanics at Dale Coyne Racing.”

While Conor Daly and Pippa Mann struggled in one-off entries, with Mann getting bumped out of the field in Saturday qualifying, Daly’s entry essentially puts three Coyne cars in the race – Daly’s No. 17 United States Air Force Honda is a Dale Coyne car that has been leased to Thom Burns Racing.

Rest assured, the days of Coyne being an “also ran” are long gone, and a Coyne car ending up in Victory Lane at the biggest race of the year would complete the Chicago Cubs analogy – the Cubs won a World Series title in 2016, and an Indy 500 triumph would be the crowning achievement in Coyne’s career.

Follow@KyleMLavigne