Ex-Marussia driver Luiz Razia looking at IndyCar seat in 2014?

Leave a comment

Luiz Razia appeared ready to ascend to Formula One last winter but was unable to hold onto his ride at Marussia (pictured) due to sponsorship issues. Now the Brazilian driver may be looking at the IndyCar Series instead.

While also mentioning the DTM touring car series as another possibility, Razia recently told French site SportAuto that he has the agent of former Indianapolis 500 winner and two-time CART champion Gil de Ferran talking to IndyCar teams about a potential program in 2014.

After serving as a test driver for Virgin Racing (now Marussia) in 2010 and Team Lotus (now Caterham) in 2011, Razia finished second in the 2012 GP2 championship and signed with Marussia this past February.

But the aforementioned funding problems forced Marussia to terminate its contract with him, and the team wound up replacing him with Jules Bianchi, who put together a quietly impressive first season despite having little time to get used to the team and its car. With his F1 hopes dashed, Razia kept busy this season in the International GT Open sports car series.

Razia has also taken time to share his two cents on Toro Rosso’s decision to pass over Antonio Felix da Costa in favor of 19-year-old Russian driver Daniil Kvyat for a 2014 race seat in F1.

da Costa has landed a test role with World Champions Red Bull instead, but Razia still believes that da Costa should have gotten the Toro Rosso seat.

“The strange thing is not the fact that [Kvyat] is coming from GP3,” he said to Brazilian publication TotalRace. “A driver can demonstrate his talent in many categories. What I’m saying it that there is a loss of momentum.”

Razia also noted da Costa’s competitiveness in Formula Renault 3.5 this past year; he earned three wins and wound up third in the championship behind winner Kevin Magnussen (who is now preparing for his rookie F1 campaign with McLaren) and Stoffel Vandoorne.

While admitting that he is “the devil’s advocate” as he is a friend of da Costa’s, Razia feels other factors were at play in Kvyat’s promotion such as a need to have a Russian on the grid for the country’s inaugural Grand Prix this coming season at Sochi.

“[F1] is a very political category, and [Kvyat] is even sponsored by a Russian bank,” he said. “Toro Rosso has difficulties, as everyone does, so it was a situation where everything fell into place for him.”

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