Two Olympic bobsled members will crew Buddy Lazier’s car in Indy 500

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You might remember back in February during this year’s Sochi Winter Olympics that David Cripps, veteran Verizon IndyCar Series engineer, went to work for the U.S. Men’s National Bobsled team.

Cripps is now working with Buddy Lazier and Lazier Partners Racing this month, as engineer of that car. And he’s bringing two of his bobsled teammates with him.

Abe Morlu, from Boone, North Carolina, and Dallas Robinson, from Georgetown, Kentucky, join the LPR effort this month. Robinson competed in the Sochi Winter Olympics in both 2-Man and 4-Man bobsled competition. Morlu has competed in several world championship bobsled events. As a world-class sprinter, Morlu has also competed in two Summer Olympic games for Liberia, where he was born.

During the race, both will be over-the-wall crew members during the race on the No. 91 University of Iowa Stephen A. Wynn Institute for Vision Research Chevrolet. Morlu will change the right-rear tire and Robinson will refuel the car.

Additionally, both took two-seater rides with Mario Andretti on Monday, to gauge and compare the experience between being in a bobsled and in a car.

“That two-seater ride was awesome,” Morlu said, via IndyCar PR. “I got to take it with Mario Andretti too. You can’t ask for anything better. It was great. Those cars have so much downforce and so much grip. I was trying to check out the line Mario was driving. I play it on a lot of simulators and after getting to see the line from Mario I want to play the game again so I can break my record.”

That’s only the start for Morlu, as he plans to tackle one of racing’s most challenging feats next year.

“I am going to race Pikes Peak next year on a motorcycle – the race to the top,” he said. “So, this experience really got me ready for it. I was second guessing it, but going that fast in a car with Mario, I thought, ‘Yeah, I’m ready to do this.'”

Added Robinson, “The two-seater with Andretti was wild. I am very used to feeling vertical g’s pushing me down. In a bobsled you get five vertical g’s. But the lateral G’s in an IndyCar are something else. Vertical g’s push you down, with lateral g’s you are coming out through the side. You feel as though the back of the car, at any second, is going to come out. It’s amazing how tight they can handle. It was an amazing experience.

“I kept trying to lift my head up to look over Mario. That worked until we hit about 180 (mph) I was thinking I needed to put my head down. I thought, at any second, the back was going to come out. I’m going to be looking at Mario from the side at some point. It was pretty amazing.”

Lazier, the 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner, is the oldest driver in this year’s field at age 46 and starts 33rd. But that sells short the team’s effort – it’s one of only two single-car entries in the race, and the lone Indianapolis-only team in the field. Lazier qualified at more than 227 mph.

As expected, FIA denies granting Colton Herta a Super License to race in F1

Colton Herta Super License
Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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The governing body for Formula One on Friday said IndyCar star Colton Herta will not be granted the Super License that the American needs to join the F1 grid next season.

“The FIA confirms that an enquiry was made via the appropriate channels that led to the FIA confirming that the driver Colton Herta does not have the required number of points to be granted an FIA Super Licence,” the FIA said in a statement.

The FIA decision was not a surprise.

Red Bull was interested in the 22-year-old Californian and considering giving Herta a seat at AlphaTauri, its junior team. AlphaTauri has already said that Pierre Gasly will return next season and Yuki Tsunoda received a contract extension earlier this week.

However, AlphaTauri has acknowledged it would release Gasly, who is apparently wanted at Alpine, but only if it had a compelling driver such as Herta to put in the car. F1 has not had an American on the grid since Alexander Rossi in 2015, but Herta did not particularly want the FIA to make an exception to the licensing system to get him a seat.

At issue is how the FIA rates IndyCar, a series it does not govern. The points it awards to IndyCar drivers rank somewhere between F2 and F3, the two junior feeder series into F1.

IndyCar drivers have criticized the system in defense of Herta and the intense, close racing of their own highly competitive series. Herta has won seven IndyCar races, is the youngest winner in series history and has four starts in the Indianapolis 500. He qualified on the front row in 2021 and finished a career-best eighth in 2020.

Rossi, who has spent the last four seasons as Herta’s teammate at Andretti Autosport, lashed out this week because “I’m so sick and tired of this back and forth” regarding the licensing.

“The whole premise of it was to keep people from buying their way into F1 and allowing talent to be the motivating factor,” Rossi wrote on social media. “That’s great. We all agree Colton has the talent and capability to be in F1. That’s also great and he should get that opportunity if it’s offered to him. Period.

“Motorsport still remains as the most high profile sport in the world where money can outweigh talent. What is disappointing and in my opinion, the fundamental problem, is that the sporting element so often took a backseat to the business side that here had to be a method put in place in order for certain teams to stop taking drivers solely based on their financial backing.”

Rossi added those decisions “whether out of greed or necessity, is what cost Colton the opportunity to make the decision for himself as to if he wanted to alter career paths and race in F1. Not points on a license.”

The system favors drivers who compete in FIA-sanctioned series. For example, Linus Lundqvist earned his Super License by winning the Indy Lights championship.

Lundqvist’s required points come via the 15 he earned for the Lights title, 10 points for finishing third in Lights last year and his 2020 victory in the FIA-governed Formula Regional Americas Championship, which earned him 18 points.

That gave the 23-year-old Swede a total of 43 points, three more than needed for the license.

Herta, meanwhile, ended the IndyCar season with 32 points. He can still earn a Super License by picking up one point for any free practice sessions he runs this year; McLaren holds his F1 rights and could put him in a car. Herta could also potentially run in an FIA-sanctioned winter series to pick up some points.

Michael Andretti, who has petitioned the FIA to expand its grid to add two cars for him to launch a team, said he never bothered to explore potential replacements for Herta on the IndyCar team because he was confident the Super License request would be rejected.

Andretti has been met by severe resistance from existing F1 teams and even F1 itself in his hope to add an 11th team. Andretti could still get on the grid by purchasing an existing team and he’d like to build his program around Herta, who is under contract in IndyCar to Andretti through 2023.