IndyCar Driver Review: E.J. Viso

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With the IndyCar season in the books and a limited amount of news to come since the season finale at Fontana, my MotorSportsTalk colleague Chris Estrada and are taking a look back at the 2013 season just past. Chris and I each ranked our top 10 drivers and some of the biggest stories; now we take a look back at the field driver-by-driver.

In 15th place, Andretti’s fourth driver, E.J. Viso…

2013 SEASON PREVIEW

E.J. Viso

  • Team: Andretti Autosport
  • 2012: 20th Place, Best Finish 5th, Best Start 5th
  • 2013: 15th Place, Best Finish 4th, Best Start 1st (Inherited Detroit Race 1), 2 Top-5, 7 Top-10, 15 Laps Led, 11.1 Avg. Start, 12.9 Avg. Finish

DiZinno says: Viso had a truly top flight ride for the first time in his six-year IndyCar career, with Andretti Autosport and teammates Hunter-Reay, Hinchcliffe and Andretti. I’m not going to say he didn’t capitalize on it; in fact, his qualifying run in the first half of the season was in fact one of the best in the field. But he never seemed able to maximize it on race day; whether it was strategy calls gone awry, poor caution timing or poor luck, Viso never had a truly standout race or result. Milwaukee, for the second straight year, was his best effort. The mysterious circumstances surrounding his illness that kept him out at Fontana will have a reverberating after-effect. I like E.J., but I’m not sure we’ll see him in an IndyCar again.

Estrada says: Armed with a proper array of resources at Andretti Autosport, Viso still found himself stuck mostly with anonymous, mid-pack results outside of nice efforts at Milwaukee (fourth) and Toronto Race 2 (fifth). Most noticeable was his run of six consecutive Top-5 starts, but outside of Milwaukee, those good qualifying efforts were left unconverted; a fourth-place start at Indy was squandered because of a long final stop, starts of first and fifth on Belle Isle both ended in 17th-place finishes, and a penalty for hitting pit equipment knocked him back at Texas before he finished 10th from another P5 start. Things just never worked out, and now, we’re left to wonder if he’ll be back on the grid next season.

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.