Two-time Formula 1 world champion Mika Hakkinen expects the sport’s “ridiculous” engine penalty problem to only get worse in 2018 when teams face a reduction in the number of parts they can use.
Following a litany of engine penalties through the 2017 season that saw many drivers receive sanctions they could not fully serve, F1 bosses moved to improve the system for next year by capping the maximum grid drop to 15 places before being sent to the back of the grip.
However, with teams facing a reduction from four to three allowed usages of each power unit component through the season, concerns have been raised that penalties will only increase through 2018.
Writing in his Unibet blog, Hakkinen discussed the main negatives with F1 through 2017, highlighting both the engine penalty issues and concerns about the policing of track limits, a topic that flared up over the United States Grand Prix weekend.
“Two negative points about Formula 1 in 2017 were the continuing problems concerning track limits and the ridiculous number of grid penalties awarded to drivers as a result of powertrain problems,” Hakkinen wrote.
‘I have made my view on track limits very clear; the lines are there for a good reason and the current drivers should respect them. The alternative is the old, high, kerbs which were very dangerous and could launch a car into the air.
“As for the engine penalties, I know the FIA has simplified the system for 2018, but with the number of permitted engines being reduced from four to three, I can see more problems during the course of a long and very competitive season.
“On a more positive note, Formula 1 in 2018 promises to be even more competitive. I am sure Mercedes will again be the team to beat, but Ferrari will build on what they learned this year and Red Bull Racing will be joined by McLaren in having a supply of Renault engines.”
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.
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