F1 drivers unconcerned about FRIC ban

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After the legality of the front-rear interconnected suspension systems (aka FRIC) was brought into question by FIA race director Charlie Whiting earlier this week, teams are now moving to remove them from their cars for this weekend’s German Grand Prix.

However, a number of drivers in Germany have said that the loss of the system will not be too much of a problem, and general consensus suggests that Mercedes will lose the most – albeit not enough to fall back into the clutches of the other teams.

It was thought that some of the teams could take a risk and run the system during practice, leaving the decision over its legality with the race stewards in Germany, who could theoretically disagree with Whiting. However, none of the teams will risk this, and Force India’s Sergio Perez confirmed that his team would stay safe this weekend.

“We won’t run it I think,” Perez said. “It’s pretty much taken the decision from the senior management that we won’t run it. I don’t know how much it will affect us, but I don’t expect it will have a big impact on our car.

“Some teams, of course, they have developed the system and have a much advanced system than us, and have a bigger impact than we will.”

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was asked about how the loss of the system would impact on his driving style, but he too was not overly bothered by the decision.

“Nothing, really,” he said. “It’s a system that has been on Formula 1 cars for some years now, but it’s not a big implication in terms of driving style or in terms of anything that can change the behavior of the car.”

Felipe Massa also felt that it wouldn’t be a huge change, and believes that the teams ahead – namely Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull – stand to lose the most from the ban.

“I think it’s very difficult to answer compared to other teams,” he admitted. “The only thing I can say is that we don’t make our car much quicker using the FRIC. For sure, it’s positive, but not a big difference, so I don’t think we will lose a lot.

“It can be that we get closer to the big teams. I really believe that teams maybe like Mercedes, like Ferrari, like Red Bull, they can have a system which is working more than our system, but it’s very difficult to be sure about that, so we need to wait and see how things work on this weekend.”

Lewis Hamilton tested without FRIC at Silverstone last week, and wasn’t affected by the change.

“It is going to be a new experience for several different people,” he said. “We tried it already in Silverstone and the car felt much the same. Naturally I think everyone has to adapt the set-up a little bit to utilise different settings.”

It will be interesting to see if there is any change in the pecking order this weekend, but given that all of the teams look set to remove the device, we should see little movement on the grid.

What’s next for Danica Patrick after the Indy 500? Dreams, downtime and waffles

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INDIANAPOLIS – When Danica Patrick was a 14-year-old growing up in Roscoe, Illinois, she had a firm idea of what she’d be doing 20 years later.

A reporter from her hometown newspaper recently reminded her of that in a recent interview when he brought a prescient artifact from those teenage years – an essay that she crafted as an up and coming go-kart driver about her racing accomplishments.

“I’m breezing through it, and then at the end, it said, ‘I wanted to race Indy cars,” Patrick, 36, said Thursday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “I was 14. I told him, ‘See? If this isn’t an example of “Write that shit down,” nothing is.’

“This is manifesting. You have write it down and you have to imagine what you want. So I do that as much as I can.”

Heading into the final start of her career in Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 (she will start seventh in her No. 13 Dallara-Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing), Patrick already seems to have a solid idea of the next 20 years — in part, because of having some glimpses into her post-racing life.

There has been plenty of downtime since her final NASCAR start in the Daytona 500 three months ago. She has taken vacations (including an India trip to meet the Dalai Lama with boyfriend Aaron Rodgers) and created several new routines on her suddenly free from racing weekends.

“I make waffles on Sundays now,” she said. “That’s pretty fun.  In the summer, there’s like farmers market.  I can’t wait for that.  I mean, there’s going to be probably some new stuff that I don’t know yet.

“The one thing that I am definitely looking forward to less of is less stress.  Last weekend was awesome at the end of it all because it went well with qualifying, but I was nervous for 95% of that weekend. That’s uncomfortable.”

But testing her comfort zone is appealing to Patrick, who has spent most of her adult life testing the boundaries of gender norms in her profession. Though the pressure of race weekends might disappear, her incessant quest for challenges probably will remain.

Now that racing is over, Patrick still has a winery, a clothing line, a cookbook and a fitness manual to promote – and more is on the way.

“I just have a habit for pushing myself to uncomfortable spaces, making them comfortable for me,” she said. “At least just making them comfortable enough to be able to manage.

“As an example, I went bungee jumping a long while back, like 10 years.  I’m super scared of heights.  I’m still scared of heights.  But I just like to know that if I want to do something, I am brave enough and confident enough to do it.  That doesn’t mean I’m not still scared.  That doesn’t mean it’s not still something that’s easy to me afterward. I just like to know I can get past the fear if I have to.

“I’m OK with transitioning into other things, finding a little bit of happiness and joy each day, less colorization of emotions. I’m ready for that.”

So what specifically is on tap? Talk shows? Another book?

Patrick demurs when pressed.

“I think I have definitely big dreams and aspirations for myself, for all my companies, for the kind of emotion I want to have on a day-to-day basis,” she said. “I’m looking forward to a good, easy, happy, calm, joyful, exciting, adventurous life.  If I say I want it, there’s a very good chance that’s what I’ll get.”

In the short-term, there’s hosting an ESPN awards show that will keep her busy through July.

And after that, her schedule will free up just as Green Bay Packers training camp begins for Rodgers, the two-time MVP quarterback.

“I’m thinking I’m going to have plenty of time to write a cookbook in Green Bay,” she said.