Car No.: 19
Best Finish: P6 (Australia, Bahrain)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Championship Position: 11th
Hopes were high for Felipe Massa’s bonus season in Formula 1, only made possible by Nico Rosberg’s shock retirement and Valtteri Bottas’ subsequent move to Mercedes. Yet it failed to offer the kind of form that could secure the Brazilian a longer future in the series.
Massa made his love of the new-style cars for 2017 known through pre-season, and Williams made a good start to the year as he led the midfield runners by finishing sixth in Australia. After repeating the result in Bahrain, it was looking like Massa could become a serious force in the midfield fight.
But those races proved to be the high point of his season. Points were picked up in small doses leading up to the summer break, finishing no higher than ninth, although a possible podium – and maybe even a victory – was lost in Baku after a suspension failure that could have reshaped Massa’s season.
Instead it was Lance Stroll who took the plaudits for hitting the podium in Baku, with Massa failing to record a result better than P8 until the penultimate race of the year on home soil in Brazil.
But it was at Interlagos we were treated to a display of Massa at his best. A perfect drive saw him beat former Ferrari teammate Fernando Alonso in a race-long fight and take P7, acting as a solid sign-off to his home fans.
While it was far from being the season Massa wanted to say goodbye with, he was nevertheless ready to say goodbye this time around – something he wasn’t 12 months ago. It proved to be a classy end to a classy F1 career.
Season High: Saying goodbye to Brazil with a perfect drive to P7.
Season Low: Losing a possible podium or victory in Baku due to a suspension failure.
There have been five different winners in the last five weeks of the NTT IndyCar season and driver that kicked off that streak in Elkhart Lake is in desperate need of a victory to help close the points gap to the leader. After being involved in the Lap 1 accident at Pocono Raceway last week, Alexander Rossi sits 35 points behind Josef Newgarden. Rossi’s two victories this season have come on road courses.
This week’s Bommarito Auto Group 500 the World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway is the third race on this track since IndyCar first revisited it in 2017. Newgarden took the checkers in 2017; Will Power grabbed the glory last year. Gateway also hosted races from 2001-2003.
Here are some of the storylines to watch this Sunday:
- For most of the drivers in the field, this will mark only their third time to race at Gateway, but two drivers were around in 2003 when IndyCar visited this track previously. Scott Dixon finished 15th in that race. He found the handle when Indy returned in 2017 to finish second and then third last year. Tony Kanaan was second in 2003; unfortunately he went the other direction and has not scored a top-10 at Gateway since.
- If one is looking for perfection on this track type, Simon Pagenaud is the only driver to sweep the top 10 on ovals in the past two years. In his last 10 starts on them, he has garnered an average finish of 5.2; his last five attempts have been sixth or better including a win in this year’s Indy 500. Pagenaud finished third at Gateway in 2017 and was fourth last year.
- The top two drivers in the points standings should also challenge for a top-five this week. Rossi was perfect alongside Pagenaud on ovals until his accident last week at Pocono with a sweep of the top 10 and seven top-fives in his last nine races. Newgarden also has nine top-10s and a worst of 13th on ovals in the past two years.
- Don’t count Dixon out of the points battle yet. While he currently sits 52 points out of first, Dixon is the hottest driver on the circuit with a current streak of five top-fives to his credit including his victory at Mid-Ohio two weeks ago. His oval record is a little spottier with two runner-up finishes and two 17th-place finishes in the last four races.
- Last week’s first-lap carnage ended Rossi’s top-10 streak at seven, but one other driver was able to sneak through and extend his. Graham Rahal will vie for his ninth consecutive top-10 this week, but that success is questionable in light of his Gateway record. Rahal finished 12th in 2017 and was barely able to crack the top 10 in 10th last year.
See More: IndyCar championship contenders seeing fortunes rise and drop
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