Several post-season IndyCar stats to digest after Fontana

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A few days have passed since the IZOD IndyCar Series concluded its 2013 season. Scott Dixon is champion, which is the easiest statistic to look at. But here’s some other intriguing bits of note from the season:

  • There were 10 different race winners, one shy of tying the record set in the 2000 and 2001 CART seasons. They were: James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Takuma Sato, Tony Kanaan, Mike Conway, Simon Pagenaud, Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon, Charlie Kimball and Will Power.
  • Some 20 different drivers scored at least one podium finish. Any of the above 10 were joined on the rostrum at some point this year by: Marco Andretti, Justin Wilson, Dario Franchitti, Sebastien Bourdais, Simona de Silvestro, Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter, Graham Rahal, James Jakes and Carlos Munoz.
  • Dixon’s title run was fueled by a second-half surge, as he scored 337 points in the last nine races, and no one else scoring more than 289. The top 10 scorers in the last nine races: Dixon 337, Power 289, Pagenaud 267, Wilson 245, Bourdais 237, Kimball 234, Castroneves 218, Franchitti 216, de Silvestro 210 and Andretti 207. Hinchcliffe (183), Newgarden (166) and Hunter-Reay (146) were next up.
  • That second-half change made for a drastically different overall top 10 compared to the first half of 2013, paced by Andretti Autosport. The points after 10 races were: Castroneves 332, Hunter-Reay 323, Andretti 277, Hinchcliffe 266, Kanaan 253, Pagenaud 241, Dixon 240, Sato 233, Wilson 227 and Power 209. E.J. Viso (203) and Franchitti (202) were next.
  • Power was the year’s best starter. The Australian’s starting average of 4.316 led Hunter-Reay (5.368), Andretti (8.895), Hinchcliffe (9.053), Castroneves (9.156) and Dixon (9.579). Those six were the only full-time drivers to boast a starting position average inside the top 10. Worst in the field was a tie between Rahal and Sebastian Saavedra, 17.737.
  • Power’s 103 laps led at Fontana also meant he led the most laps this year, with 351 of a possible 2,433 on point. Others over 100 included Hunter-Reay at 297, Hinchcliffe on 264, Andretti 259, Dixon and Castroneves each with 239, and Sato with 187. In all 25 of the 38 drivers who took the green flag this year led at least one lap.
  • Dixon scored the most points on road/street courses with 420 to Pagenaud’s 371 and Wilson’s 342, while Castroneves led the oval points with 215 to Hunter-Reay’s 209 and Kanaan’s 202. The separate Mario Andretti and A.J. Foyt Trophies for road/street and oval championships were quietly retired this year, and not awarded.
  • Despite starting only 12 of 19 races, Oriol Servia scored only three fewer points than Saavedra (233 to 236), who was the lowest-placed driver to run all 19. Saavedra ended 21st in the standings.

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images
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Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed their new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with US-based Ford Motors in a press event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Team Principle Christian Horner. They are the only Formula 1 team to launch in the United States, 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.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

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.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen had already wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“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.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
(Gongora / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Now Verstappen’s thoughts will inevitably 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 principle 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.