IndyCar 2017 driver review: James Hinchcliffe

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MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. James Hinchcliffe was an unlucky 13th in 2017 despite a popular, storybook return to victory lane at Long Beach.

James Hinchcliffe, No. 5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda

  • 2016: 13th Place, Best Finish 2nd, 1 Pole, 3 Podiums, 4 Top-5, 9 Top-10, 217 Laps Led, 10.9 Avg. Start, 10.8 Avg. Finish
  • 2017: 13th Place, 1 Win, Best Start 3rd, 3 Podiums, 3 Top-5, 7 Top-10, 50 Laps Led, 9.6 Avg. Start, 12.6 Avg. Finish

It was a frustrating season for the “Mayor of Hinchtown,” with a popular win early at Long Beach and a second straight podium on home soil in Toronto often overshadowed by myriad mechanical issues. Perhaps fittingly, Hinchcliffe ended an unlucky 13th in points for a second straight season.

On the whole, the SPM team was mystified as to where much of its 2016 speed went, and the team appeared stretched thin with some of its personnel running the 2018 Dallara universal aero kit test program. It also didn’t help Hinchcliffe any he had a rotating driver in the second car; any of Mikhail Aleshin, Robert Wickens, Sebastian Saavedra or Jack Harvey was saddled up alongside from Road America onwards.

Hinchcliffe’s first half of the year, when the stability was there with both cars, was better than his second. In the first eight races he averaged a 7.6 starting spot and banked four of his seven top-10 finishes for the year. In the second half, the grid spot dropped to 11.2 and he only had one top-five finish, that third place at Toronto – aided by a well-timed caution. His double points score hurt him more than any other full-time driver, too. Scoring only 49 points from the two races in Indianapolis and Sonoma was just 23rd among all drivers, behind five part-time drivers, as mechanical issues took him out of both races. To put that in context, Hinchcliffe earned 42 points alone for his 2016 Indianapolis 500 pole position, thanks to the race’s enhanced focus on qualifying points.

Granted, Hinchcliffe was unlucky to lose a potential win in the St. Petersburg season opener owing to a caution he was on the wrong side of, and ninth was unrepresentative of his pace there. He delivered one of the year’s funniest one-liners in Texas, retorting to Chip Ganassi’s allegations he was the one to blame for triggering an eight-car pileup just past halfway with a simple, “that’s adorable.” And he somehow managed to pull off the save of the season at Pocono, crossed up at 200 mph in Turn 1 but keeping it out of the wall.

The Canadian tried to be the diplomatic good soldier at every opportunity and remained the consummate professional. But you could tell this was a driver frustrated with his situation – particularly as he entered the free agent market over the second half of the year and then watched a lot of open doors close in the process. His marketability remains second to none in this series but it’s a shame he hasn’t yet put together a proper title-contending year. Given his talent level, it’s surprising he’s never finished higher than eighth in points over seven total seasons and more than 100 starts. Paired together with longtime friend and countryman Wickens next year, hopes are high for a turnaround.

Formula E announces Portland, Oregon as US race in 2023

Formula E Portland 2023
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The American date for the 2023 Formula E schedule will move from Brooklyn, New York to Portland, Oregon on June 24, 2023, filling the calendar at 16 rounds. This will be the first time in the nine-year history of the series that they have raced on the West Coast in only the third different city in the United States. Miami hosted one Formula E race in 2015. The series has visited the United States every season except 2020 due to the COVID-1+9 pandemic.

The 2023 race will be Round 12.

“We are excited to bring the premier electric motorsport world championship to Portland for the first time in June next year,” said Alberto Longo, Co-Founder & Chief Championship Officer, Formula E in a press release. “There is a big, passionate fanbase for professional sports in the city, together with strong ecological credentials which makes Portland a perfect host for the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.

“The USA remains an important market for Formula E. We are delighted to maintain that critical presence and engage a new audience in the Pacific Northwest region in all-electric motorsport.”

MORE: McLaren Racing’s Ian James organization’s entry into Formula E

Last year’s American round in Brooklyn was made up of two races with Nick Cassidy from Envision Racing winning Race 1 and António da Costa from DS Techeetah taking the second race.

Portland will host only one Formula E race in 2023.

The 2023 season will be highlighted by the new Gen 3 car, which features a battery capable of generating 350 kilowatts with regeneration capability from both the front and rear axles. This contributes to a top speed of 200 miles per hour (m.p.h.), an increase of about 25 m.p.h. from last year.

The 2023 season also marks the entry of two new iconic teams, Maserati and McLaren, who completed their roster of drivers in late November with the addition of Jake Hughes.

Season 9 Calendar

Round 1:  January 3, Mexico City, Mexico
Rounds 2 & 3: January 27-28, Diriyah, Saudi Arabia
Round 4: February 11, Hyderabad, India*
Round 5: February 6, Cape Town, South Africa*
Round 6: March 8, São Paulo, Brazil*
Rounds 7 & 8: April 22-23, Berlin, Germany
Round 9: May 6, Monaco
Rounds 10 & 11: June 3-4, Jakarta, Indonesia
Round 12: June 24, Portland, Oregon*
Rounds 13 & 14: July 15-16, Rome, Italy
Rounds 15 & 16: July 29-30, London

*subject to final FIA Safety and Technical checks,