Hulkenberg: Unfair to compare Formula 1 and WEC

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MONTMELO – Following his first endurance race at Spa-Francorchamps last weakend, Nico Hulkenberg has said that it is unfair to compare Formula 1 with the FIA World Endurance Championship, believing that both series can learn from one another.

Hulkenberg is balancing his F1 commitments in 2015 with two races for Porsche in the WEC – 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps and the 24 Hours of Le Mans – and finished sixth on debut last weekend.

When asked by MotorSportsTalk about his first weekend in the series, the German was upbeat and pleased with what he learned.

“It was good, generally quite positive,” Hulkenberg said. “Obviously the race was a bit of a shame, to have the clash early on which then took us out of the race and not fighting at the front with the Audis and the other Porsches, but otherwise, we learned a lot.

“A lot of first impressions and primers for everything there. I’m happy with how it went.”

One of the biggest differences between F1 and endurance racing is tire management, with less onus being placed on it in the WEC, allowing the drivers to push more throughout the race.

“When you think of endurance racing, people think ‘ah it’s cruising, you’ve got to look after everything’, but it’s actually pretty full on pushing,” Hulkenberg said.

“I was quite impressed with that and didn’t expect it quite like this. Tires are pretty consistent, you don’t have to think about it constantly. They also have traction control systems which also help you a great deal because they kick in when you overdo it with the throttle.”

Hulkenberg believes that a longer lasting tire may be beneficial in F1, as it would allow drivers to push throughout the race instead of holding back.

“I wouldn’t mind, from a driver point of view yes, you’re quite happy if you can push all the way through,” he said.

“You don’t have to worry so much. From a driver’s point of view it’s something that is very welcome, yes.”

The rapid rise of the WEC in the past few years has led many to compare it with F1, given the latter’s ‘closed door’ nature in the paddock and in terms of fan engagement. Hulkenberg does not believe it is a fair comparison to make, though.

“I know what F1 is like, I’ve been in this environment for a few years now, and this was completely new,” he said.

“Of course people are tempted to compare, but I think you shouldn’t always necessarily compare them, because they’re two different things at the pinnacle of motor racing. For me, both are fun.”

Indianapolis Motor Speedway can have 10,000 fans for IndyCar races

Indianapolis Motor Speedway fans
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Indianapolis Motor Speedway will have crowds for its NTT IndyCar Series race weekend next month, the first time fans are allowed at the track this year.

The track announced Friday that up to 10,000 fans will be allowed in the grandstands daily from Oct. 1-4. The IndyCar Harvest GP race doubleheader will be held on the track’s road course Oct. 2-3.

IMS has played host to several events this year without fans, including the 104th Indianapolis 500 on Aug. 23 and a NASCAR-IndyCar weekend July 4-5 that included the Brickyard 400. Plans originally were made to have fans at the Indy 500 before reversing course a few weeks ahead of the race. In a letter last month, Roger Penske vowed that fans would return for the 2021 Indy 500.

“We can’t wait to see fans come through our gates for the first time in 2020,” IMS president Doug Boles said in a release. “They’ll be greeted by a vastly improved facility, featuring significant upgrades to the spectator experience. We’re also extremely grateful to have a presenting sponsor with the expertise and resources of GMR as we look to implement our detailed and comprehensive health and safety plan.”

Fans will undergo temperature screenings upon entry and also be required to wear face coverings at all times on property. The track said each attendee will receive a mask and bottle of hand sanitizer.

The Friday, Oct. 2 race will be shown at 3:30 p.m. ET on USA, and NBC will broadcast the Saturday, Oct. 3 race at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Here’s the release from Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020 – For the first time in 2020, Indianapolis Motor Speedway will welcome fans to the Racing Capital of the World for the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR weekend. Up to 10,000 spectators can be in the grandstands each day of racing action Oct. 1-4, per approval from the Marion County Public Health Department.

Tickets are available now via IMS.com and will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

The massive facility, which holds more than 300,000 people, will provide two spectator zones with up to 5,000 fans in each. The zones will be located in Turns 1 and 4 of the oval, offering strong sightlines of the road course. Strict health and safety rules will be in place, including the following:

  • Face coverings must be worn throughout the property at all times;
  • All fans will receive temperature screenings before gate entry;
  • Grandstand seats will be marked for distancing;
  • Attendees must use pre-assigned gates and remain in their designated zones.

Global Medical Response, the world leader in compassionate, quality emergency medical and patient relocation services, will be the presenting sponsor of the penultimate weekend of INDYCAR racing this season.

“We can’t wait to see fans come through our gates for the first time in 2020,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “They’ll be greeted by a vastly improved facility, featuring significant upgrades to the spectator experience. We’re also extremely grateful to have a presenting sponsor with the expertise and resources of GMR as we look to implement our detailed and comprehensive health and safety plan.”

The plan, which includes each attendee receiving a mask and a bottle of hand sanitizer upon entering the track, was developed in consultation with state and local health officials.

This event weekend is highlighted by an NTT INDYCAR SERIES doubleheader, with races Friday, Oct. 2 and Saturday, Oct. 3. It will be the penultimate event of the series’ season as the field pursues the champion’s prestigious Astor Challenge Cup to be awarded Sunday, Oct. 25 at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The INDYCAR Harvest GP will pay tribute to a storied IMS event, the Harvest Classic in September 1916. The Harvest Classic was the only racing event held outside of May at IMS from 1911 through 1993. The event featured three races, all won by legendary driver Johnny Aitken.

Fans also will see a host of facility improvements during the event weekend, including more than 30 new LED video boards, refreshed concession stands and restrooms, and 5G wireless connectivity throughout the facility.

The first race will air at 3:30 p.m. (ET) Friday, Oct. 2 on the USA Network. NBC will broadcast the second race at 2:30 p.m. (ET) Saturday, Oct. 3, with WTHR-13 airing the action live in Central Indiana.

Also racing that weekend will be the first pairing of two major sports car series — the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli and its North American counterpart, GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS. Former Indianapolis 500 pole winner Ryan Briscoe is among the drivers in the Indianapolis 8 Hour event held Sunday, Oct. 4.

The event also will showcase drivers in SRO America’s Pirelli GT4 America, GT Sports Club America and the TC America series.

The full on-track schedule is available at IMS.com.