Report: F1 teams toss out mandatory two-stop proposal

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The idea of imposing a two-stop requirement for Formula One in 2014, mooted last week, appears to be just that: an idea that won’t be implemented.

Autosport reported Tuesday that teams are outright rejecting the proposal. It would have needed unanimous support from the 11 teams to be implemented this late in the year.

Implementing two in a race could present something of a slippery slope for F1. One is required anyway due to the requirements of running both of Pirelli’s prime and option tire over the course of a Grand Prix, but as we’ve seen in some instances this year, Austin in particular, that’s led to dreary and processional races.

Two could open up the idea whereby a driver at the back of the field, for example, could make both of his pit stops within say, the first six laps or so and be good to the regulations. It could include further tire saving in an effort to go the remaining distance.

However it would penalize opportunities for drives, though, such as Paul di Resta’s at the Canadian Grand Prix this year, who went 56 laps on Pirelli’s prime tire, the medium, before a switch to supersofts for the duration. Under the new idea, he’d need to pit twice in that remaining distance, and thereby lose any advantage he’d have gained by running that long a first stint to begin with. Of course, knowing he’d need to pit twice anyway, he probably wouldn’t plan to run that long in the first stint.

What the two-stop proposal would more likely do down the road is set up designated pit windows, thereby removing any strategic element of the race with cars needing to stop anywhere from say, laps 19-22 in the first cycle and 28-32 in the second.

The mandatory window cycle was used in the CART series, the precursor to IndyCar, in the early 2000s but met little critical support. It reared its ugly head most at the water-logged Surfers’ Paradise race in 2002, when several cars needed to pit for a mandatory second stop three laps before the race was declared finished, and Mario Dominguez was declared the race winner despite starting 18th and last and not passing a single car on track. All overtakes were done in the pits.

Coyne transitioning from underdog to Indy 500 threat

Photo: IndyCar
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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.

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