Opinion: Hamilton’s advocacy and how he is changing Formula One for the better.

As Lewis Hamilton achieved his 90th career win at Mugello, the world sat and watched as their hero clambered out of the car, from what was one of the most action packed and extraordinary races in recent years. However, as the six-time world champion prepared for his podium interview, there were seven words printed on a shirt that shook Formula One to its very core. In principal, a simple message, in reality, a fissure that brought two worlds within the sport on a collision course. Those words read: “Arrest the cops that killed Breonna Taylor”.

The phrase “say her name”, the social media campaign slogan to maintain awareness of the emergency medical technician who was killed by plain-clothed police officers when they raided her home as part of an investigation into drug trading, and Taylor’s photo were shown on the back.

Hamilton has been fundamental in instigating a discourse in Formula One that is often ignored whether that be willfully or by negligence. Highlighting structural racism, a lack of inclusion and diversity in a sport that is made up of mostly straight, white men.

Hamilton has made no secret that Formula 1 has taken very few steps to improve diversity: “We have said things, and there’s been statements released, and we’ve made gestures such as kneeling,” he said. “But we’ve not changed anything, except for perhaps some of our awareness.”

Mugello was perhaps a step up in gears. While Mercedes have taken measures to race with their ‘Black Lives Matter’ livery, there has been very little change on face value. There has been poor organisation on getting a united message when taking the knee, a seemingly backward position when considering sports such as football, and cricket have been able to present a united message.

Mercedes unveiled their Black Lives Matter Livery in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by police officers – Courtesy of Mercedes Media

Hamilton’s support for Breonna Taylor shows that he is not afraid to use his platform to advocate for global change, within a sport that tries its best to stay apolitical.

And this should be celebrated, encouraged, and supported. We have become so used to seeing figures in Formula One constrained by responsibilities to sponsors, shareholders and other vested interests. One has become so used to the monotone grunts uttered by the likes of Kimi Raikkonen that resonate with statements such as: “I don’t care about the others” and “Leave me alone”. For once, we have a sporting icon who has agency in what he says, autonomy in what he does and power in what he can change.

For many, this is an uncomfortable position. They are not used to people ‘stepping outside’ of their bubbles. This is a position that many express to actors and musicians that try to contribute to a discussion. “Stick to what you know” (excuse the High School Musical pun) reduces people to repressed animals, only allowed to be what their public perception allows them to be.

Some argue that sport is an escapism that should not be corrupted by politics. However, I believe this position to be counterproductive as it creates spaces where people are scared to engage with challenging ideas and therefore propagates environments of intolerance and inequality.

The early days of Formula One were extremely white male dominated – Courtesy of Mercedes Media

Let’s face it. Formula One is built from a foundation of privilege. Its early years were dominated by only the upper classes who could afford to compete. If you had the money then you were welcome and more times that not, it was white men that benefited from this system. We could go into WHY that is the case, but we would be onto a complete tangent explaining the social-historical consequences of slavery that trickled down into our economies, housing and education, that we would need a encyclopedia to get deep into it.

For decades, the status-quo stated the same and to this day it remains so that you are far more likely to succeed in motorsports if you come from a privileged background that allows you to afford an expensive lifestyle that involves purchasing karts, spare parts, hospitality and transport around Europe.

This had led to a socio-economic norm in which mainly white, privileged men rise to the top of the sport. And this brings me on to a point that makes me excited about the future.

WIDENING THE ARGUMENT

This is why I believe that W Series has been a success in attempting to change the very fabric of motorsports. Many criticised it saying that sport is inherently egalitarian and if you’re good enough, you will make it regardless of your race or gender.

The W Series was introduced at the end of 2018 for the 2019 season – Courtesy of W Series Media

However, I do not agree with this statement, as that suggests that everyone starts at a level playing field. Which they do not. For example, female and BAME individuals have very little in the way of representation at the top of the sport, a result of a historically narrow demographic participation. For them, it is exceedingly difficult to see themselves participate in a sport that does not reflect the diversity of modern society, even harder to be accepted. Therefore, not only is it less likely for a women to be offered or encouraged into motorsport, but you will inevitably be up against a cohort of people who will ‘other’ you based on your gender. Now, I’m not saying all men discriminate against women, but what I am saying is that in any environment where a male dominated culture permeates, anything feminine will inevitably be targeted as weak.

I go back to an example at the theatre I work at. As a director I would ask the young people in my company why they are not engaged with theatre. Their response was two-fold. One was that they thought it was too expensive, another that they didn’t think theatre represented them. The programming was not diverse enough and catered only to an old, classist audience. Therefore, getting into theatre for working class students seemed out of reach. Sound familiar?

BACK TO THE MATTER AT HAND

This is why I admire Hamilton’s actions so much. He could sit back and enjoy his success. Race cars. Create clothing brands. Record music. All the while blissfully ignoring the injustices of the world.

Hamilton has been a heroic advocate for equality – Courtesy of Mercedes Media

However, he has shown time and time again that he believes in things larger than himself. Standing up for those without a voice and calling out the injustices in the world. This is what I believe he will be his lasting legacy. Not only to beak records, but also to create lasting change with the platform that he has.

Let’s not forget this is the same driver that in his early career had to endure spectators mocking him in disgusting black-face to the tune of horrendous monkey chants.

Now, while sections of the fans and media do not like Hamilton’s political advocacy, you have to consider why that is the case?

Some say that the Breonna Taylor case is a political one which I also refute. The killing of an innocent black woman by police officers is an injustice, clear and simple. Ignoring it by trying to make it a partisan issue, or by associating it to the ‘Black Lives Movement’ is willfully ignorant. I believe it is a human rights issue that transcends partisan squabbles. Anyone and everyone should be horrified by any killing of an innocent person, and I would hope that if someone you loved was shot in bed by police, you would be equally as enraged that justice had not been enacted.

Some argue that Formula One is escapism, and to some extent it is.  However, maybe we should argue that it shouldn’t be.

If you go somewhere to hide from challenging questions about identity and society, perhaps the reason you go there is because that very place represents a past that is ‘safe’. Formula One is sometimes reluctant to change and relies on its history and practices to inform how it approaches the future.

This brings me back to my earlier statement: “Creating spaces where people are scared to engage with challenging ideas propagates environments of intolerance and inequality.”

Those trying to censor or silence him. I ask you to consider the aesthetics of what that looks like. If you are a white, male effectively challenging a black man’s experience of racism. If you are stopping the ability of a black man to speak out. You or I cannot know what it is like to live in a society where this happens. Therefore we are not in a position to tell someone of colour that their experiences is irrelevant. Yes your opinion matters, but racism and inequality is not something that hegemony experience. I certainly have never been discriminated from a job based on the colour of my skin. Therefore, it is only right that we listen, empathise, try to understand and come up with solutions together.

I believe Scott Mitchell summed it up perfectly by saying that the perceived: “Controversy is unfair given any problem that arises from such a pursuit is the fault of the person it irritates, not Hamilton.

Especially as it appears some people are more concerned with Hamilton wearing this T-shirt than they are the reason he is wearing it in the first place.”

THE FUTURE

Hamilton has already put his money where his mouth is to change this. Setting up the ‘Hamilton Commission’, a task-force dedicated to improving diversity and opportunity in the sport.

“I have been working with the Royal Academy of Engineering to create The Hamilton Commission, a research partnership dedicated to exploring how motorsport can be used as a vehicle to engage more young people from black backgrounds with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects and, ultimately, employ them on our teams or in other engineering sectors,” said Hamilton.

“It will explore areas including lack of role models and career services at schools, opportunities to engage more black youth with STEM extracurriculars, barriers that prevent people from more diverse backgrounds joining the racing industry, and problematic hiring practices that result in fewer black graduates entering engineering professions.”

Hamilton paid a visit to Mercedes EQ Formula E Team last year – Courtesy of Mercedes Media

Not only that, but he has created his own Extreme E team (X-44) which has already dedicated a progressive approach to driver-line-ups in which one male and one female driver will compete. Alongside this, while advocating both climate change and renewable energy, Hamilton has proved that it is possible to be a racing driver and a politically minded thinker.

This is not some revolutionary doctrine. It is a movement based on fairness, kindness, empathy and opportunity.

That is why I am proud of what Lewis Hamilton is doing and will continue to champion his efforts of advocacy and diversity.

IndyCar Finale Firestone Grand Prix

26TH OCTOBER 2020 BY ADAM WHEELER

Dixon crowned six-time champion to outshine Newgarden victory

Josef Newgarden’s last gasp attempt to be crowned IndyCar champion could only be accomplished with a win. Anything short of victory on the streets of St Petersburg would leave almost no path to deny Scott Dixon his sixth world championship.

Image courtesy of IndyCar

Newgarden, who started in eight, carved his way through the grid culminating with a spectacular two-car pass to take the lead and indeed the win. However, this wasn’t enough as Dixon was able to follow through from eleventh to finish in third place and thus the title.

“Six is good. Seven sounds better, that’s the goal,” Dixon said.

Scott Dixon’s sixth championship title takes him into IndyCar folklore, residing amongst the very best in history. He now is only one championship off the most successful IndyCar champion of all-time, A.J Foyt (7).

With victory at St Petersburg Newgarden achieved his series-best fourth win of the season. The Tennessee born two-time defending champion now loses his title but was remarkably magnanimous in defeat.

Newgarden went to victory lane to congratulate his rival.

“We weren’t good enough,”Newgarden said. “We’ll reset, we’ll hit them harder next year and I promise you, we will be in the fight.”

It is indeed incredible that it was nearly seven months ago that the 2020 season was abruptly abandoned. St Petersburg was originally scheduled to take place in March but was postponed to the last race of the season. A sold-out crowd of 20,000 spectators was the largest crowd of the whole season, which lost races in seven cities, had just one street course event with Sunday’s finale, and still managed to complete a 14-race year.

It was a finale to remember which was plagued with error-prone ending mistakes which saw three different Andretti race leaders crash out and Newgarden there to capitalise.

The start of the race was dominated by Alexander Rossi who took the lead of the race from pole sitter Will Power with an apparent down-shift issue. Power who was in a tight race for third in the final standings, then made an uncharacteristic mistake crashing into the barrier and promptly retiring from the race thereafter. The Australian threw his gloves in anger and admitted to driver error.

“I just lost it. Had a moment,”he said. “I was definitely frustrated there, making a mistake and hitting the wall. It’s my bad. It put us out of the race and that’s a bad situation.”

What followed were three cautions over 10 laps, the third on the restart of lap 47 brought out by Australian Supercar champion Scott McLaughlin who spun on his debut. The debutant collected into Rinus VeeKay, who clinched the ‘Rookie of the Year’ title on the same day his contract was renewed for a second season with Ed Carpenter Racing.

Despite the crash and ultimately finishing in 22nd, McLaughlin hailed his experience in IndyCar as an exciting one:

“Awesome. Far out. The best day of my life, besides my wedding,”

After the first round of pit stops, it seemed Alexander Rossi was in control of the race followed by his two Andretti teammates Colton Herta and James Hinchliffe. However, Rossi went into a spin on lap 70 collecting both the 

Rossi had been determined to extend a streak of at least one win a season that dates to 2006 when was Skip Barber’s youngest champion at 14-year-old.

His long and frustrating season ended with a 21st-place finish for the Andretti Autosport driver.

“Just lost it. It sucks, this is the first time I’ve crashed while leading,” Rossi said.

Chaos continued when Marco Andretti, who had magnificently fought his way from near the back to seventh, spun while racing for the final spot in IndyCar’s bonus programme which would have gifted an extra $1 billion to the Andretti team.

Moreover, there was a spin for Andretti’s James Hinchliffe who had been running in the top three for most of the race.

In a bizarre turn of events, the pace car which had been used for an unusually high number of caution laps reported it was on low fuel. Quickly after that, Andretti’s Colton Herta, who had inherited the lead from both Rossi and Hinchliffe spun making it a day to forget for the Andretti Autosport team.

Newgarden took control soon after, but soon had the McLaren SP driver of Pato O’Ward on his tail. Unfortunately, the Mexican could not gain on the American who stretched his lead to nearly 5 seconds by the chequered flag. O’Ward eventually settled for second.

All the earlier attrition helped Dixon slip through the field to third. There was nothing Newgarden could do, even on a day he did everything he had to, to deny Dixon a sixth championship.

Dixon, a 40-year-old considered the best of his generation, ranks third on IndyCar’s all-time wins list behind A.J. Foyt. His first title was in 2003, his first season with Chip Ganassi Racing, and his latest championship comes as the team has welcomed NASCAR’s seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson to the organization.

Colton Herta was able to finish the season in third in front of Pato O’Ward, who in his first full IndyCar season, finished fourth in the standings.

Race Classification

1. Josef Newgarden
2. Pato O’Ward
3. Scott Dixon
4. Sebastien Bourdais
5. Ryan Hunter-Reay
6. Simon Pagenaud
7. Marcus Ericsson
8. Charlie Kimball
9. Graham Rahal
10. Takuma Sato
11. Colton Herta
12. Max Chilton
13. Alex Palou
14. James Hinchcliffe
15. Rinus VeeKay
16. Oliver Askew
17. Conor Daly
18. Felix Rosenqvist
19. Jack Harvey
20. Marco Andretti
21. Alexander Rossi
22. Scott McLaughlin
23. Santino Ferrucci
24. Will Power

IndyCar Firestone GP Qualifying: Will Power takes pole after timing chaos.

image courtesy of IndyCar

Will Power took his ninth pole position on the streets of St Petersburg in the final qualifying of the season. Today’s achievement takes him to 62 career poles, now five behind Mario Andretti’s all-time record of 67.

A hectic session ensued in which multiple drivers had their times deleted due to various infringements, including Chip Ganassi’s Felix Rosenqvist who was relegated to 22nd for blocking Alex Palou. This caused a massive delay to the ‘Fast 12’ while IndyCar figured out the official classification.

Four Honda drivers, associated with Andretti finished inside the top five. Andretti Autosports’ Alexander Rossi lines up alongside Will Power in second place while Andretti Harding Steinbrenner driver Colton Herta continues his brilliant run of form starting in third.

Andretti Autosports’ James Hinchliffe will start in fourth in front of Meyer Shank Racing’s Jack Harvey in fifth who had one of their best qualifying performances of the season.

Of the six who made it through to the final Firestone Fast Six, Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward was the slowest.

A.J. Foyt Enterprises’ Sebastien Bourdais qualified in seventh place ahead of only realistic championship contender remaining, Penske’s Josef Newgarden in eighth. The two-time champion must win the race tomorrow to stand any chance of snatching the championship from Scott Dixon.

Originally qualifying in ninth place, he was bumped up to eighth after teammate Simon Pagenaud was dropped from eighth to 12th due to a penalty.

image courtesy of IndyCar

Rookies Rinus VeeKay of Ed Carpenter Racing and Oliver Askew of Arrow McLaren SP are set to round out the top ten in ninth and tenth place respectively. VeeKay is certain to win the coveted ‘Rookie of the Year’ title by starting the race tomorrow.

Chip Ganassi’s Scott Dixon starts in eleventh for tomorrow’s race and is assured his sixth championship title if he finishes in the same position. If Dixon finishes the race in eleventh, Newgarden can not mathematically win the title even if he wins the race.

image courtesy of IndyCar

IndyCar also welcomed Australian Supercar Champion Scott McLaughlin for his debut with team Penske. However, the Kiwi had some trouble getting used to the car and missed out on advancing to the second stage of qualifying, making contact with a wall in the process.

Here is the full starting lineup for the 2020 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on the streets of St. Petersburg, with all penalties factored in.

Starting Lineup
1st – Will Power
2nd – Alexander Rossi
3rd – Colton Herta
4th – James Hinchcliffe
5th – Jack Harvey
6th – Pato O’Ward
7th – Sebastien Bourdais
8th – Josef Newgarden
9th – Rinus VeeKay
10th – Oliver Askew
11th – Scott Dixon
12th – Simon Pagenaud
13th – Takuma Sato
14th – Conor Daly
15th – Marcus Ericsson
16th – Alex Palou
17th – Graham Rahal
18th – Santino Ferrucci
19th – Ryan Hunter-Reay
20th – Charlie Kimball
21st – Scott McLaughlin
22nd – Felix Rosenqvist
23rd – Marco Andretti
24th – Max Chilton

IndyCar Finale: St Petersburg Preview

image courtesy of IndyCar

After seven months we have finally reached the culmination of a full season of IndyCar racing. We head into the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg, after COVID-19 risked the suspension of the series in its entirety, with an enthralling championship decider, and some wonderful races along the way.

With the cooperation of the Florida city’s governing leaders, they have fortunately been able to construct the airport / street layout in time for this weekend’s fall event. Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon leads Penske’s Josef Newgarden as the two battle for the NTT IndyCar Series crown in a year dominated by postponements, cancellations, and rescheduling, but will finish with 14 races instead of the intended 17. Dixon has never won here but has been a runner-up four times while Newgarden had one “top-of-the podium” St. Pete finish a year ago.

This weekend’s running of the Firestone Grand Prix is the 17th event at St Petersburg since 2003, will run for 100 laps/180 miles; ten laps shorter than in 2019 when Josef Newgarden won there for the first time. Team Penske will be confident having won here nine times while Will Power and Sebastien Bourdais have each won twice among the active series drivers. Will Power also has an incredible eight pole positions to his name so don’t overlook the Australian this weekend.

 

LAST TIME OUT

In March 2019, Josef Newgarden took his first St Petersburg win, kickstarting his championship winning campaign. Power took the start from pole position, surging to an early lead until the first round of pit stops. Opting for an alternative strategy, Newgarden waited five extra laps before stopping, building an extensive lead out front before changing to the softer tyre. The margin he built on his competitors meant he was able to win by 2.899 seconds over Scott Dixon who has never won there despite being a five-time series champion

 

DRIVER NEWS

St Petersburg sees the debut of Australian Supercar champion Scott McLaughlin who features for Penske this weekend,

There has been some seismic driver news for 2021 over the past few weeks, notably the change at Arrow McLaren SP. It seems that Oliver Askew following a season placated by a variety of issues will be leaving the team at the end of the season.

To take his place is Chip Ganassi’s Felix Rosenqvist, who has one IndyCar victory to his name. The lineup alongside Pato O’Ward will undoubtedly excite all fans as one of the best young driver pairings on the grid.

Unfortunately for Askew, it seems that his luck ran out. What started with a promising podium at Iowa came crashing down, with the American featuring inside the top ten once since then. Lately, Askew was forced to miss the Harvest GP after is was revealed that he was suffering with ‘concussion-esque’ symptoms after his crash at the Indy 500. Helio Castroneves filled in for Askew at the Harvest GP, however he has been cleared fit to race for this weekend and will feature one final time for McLaren.

The final question will be who takes the vacant Chip Ganassi seat? With incoming NASCAR champion Jimmy Johnson set to feature in a few races, it seems only logical that Ganassi will share that car between Johnson and an IndyCar veteran. Rumours have been that Tony Kanaan or Helio Castroneves could fill in.

And significantly Formula E champion Antonio Felix Da Costa will take part in a pre-season test with Rahal Letterman Racing. It is unclear whether this is with a view for a 2021 IndyCar seat but would undoubtedly replace Conor Daly to line up alongside Dutch superstar Rinus VeeKay.

CHAMPIONSHIP OUTLOOK

The good news for Josef Newgarden is that there are nearly 200 scenarios in which he can clinch the IndyCar championship Sunday at St. Petersburg, Florida.

The bad news is there are nearly 19,700 ways in which rival Scott Dixon will win the championship.

Entering the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg with a 32-point lead, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver, who has led the standings since opening the season with three consecutive victories, is a heavy favourite for his sixth championship. He will clinch the title with a ninth-place or better, regardless of where Newgarden finishes.

 

WHO ELSE TO WATCH OUT FOR

Colton Herta, Patricio O’Ward and Rinus VeeKay have all had successes at St Petersburg in their lower formula experiences. All three has taken victory here in either IndyLights or the Pro Mazda championship.

Colton Herta has been in magnificent form with an amazing qualifying record, a win at Mid-Ohio and a podium at the Harvest GP. He is currently third in the standings and will be looking to finish his campaign in similar style.

Rinus VeeKay is almost certain to win the ‘Rookie of the Year’ title. His nearest challenger his Alex Palou who is 54 points behind. Palou would have to take pole, win, and lead the most laps in the race to tie level. Simply put, an impossible task.

Finally, Alexander Rossi has put his gremlins behind him. A season plagued with issues has effectively written off the American’s year. However, with four consecutive podiums since Mid-Ohio Rossi will be looking to send a statement to everyone heading into 2021.

 

WHAT TIME IS THE RACE?

 

SATURDAY 24 OCTOBER

10:55 EST / 14:55 GMT – Practice

15:05 EST / 18:05 GMT – Qualifying

 

SUNDAY 25 OCTOBER

14:30 EST / 19:30 GMT – Race

 

WHERE CAN I WATCH THE RACE?

Coverage in the UK for the races will be on Sky Sports F1. However, you can also read our session reports right here, on ThePitCrewOnline.

The Eifel Grand Prix Preview

Following Valtteri Bottas’ much needed win at the Russian Grand Prix, Formula 1 heads to the Nurburgring, set to stage the ever anticipated 2020 Eifel Grand Prix.

LOOKING BACK

The German Grand Prix has played host to F1 under a variety of names which include the Luxembourg and European Grand Prix. This year the race was named after the towering Eifel mountain range that straddles the famous circuit and stretches between Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia and three nations in Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany.

The Eifel played host to the German GP up until 1976 on the longer Nordschleife configuration. The demanding 23-kilometre-long track was abandoned after the horrific crash involving Niki Lauda on the 1st August 1976 when his Ferrari 312 T2 clipped the earthy bank at Bergwerk corner, collided with the wall and burst into flames.  Lauda narrowly escaped the inferno with his life after quick and decisive actions by fellow drivers: Guy Edwards, Harald Ertl, Brett Lunger and Arturo Merzario who pulled him from the wreckage.

The most recent iteration of the race came in 2013, won by Sebastien Vettel in the Red Bull, a race where Romain Grosjean nearly claimed his first win in Formula One until an unfortunate safety car meant he had to settle for 3rd. No hard feelings Romain?

A safety car and a late Kimi Raikkonen pit stop denied Lotus the win in 2013, with Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel winning his home race – courtesy of Red Bull content pool

THE TRACK

The Nurburgring is a fast and flowing circuit.  The 15 corners and 5.5 kilometres of tarmac is expected to test the drivers and cars to their very limits. Expect plenty of overtaking into the heavy braking zones of Turn 1 and Turn 13, both preceded by long DRS Zones. The first sector of the lap provides a significant challenge due to its twisty nature while many liken the final right-hand corner as ‘Hungaroring-esque’.

Interestingly, this will be the first time seeing this current generation of V6 turbo hybrid, high downforce cars at this circuit. The big stops and sensitive traction zones will be great fun for the current crop that now have significantly swifter power delivery than their predecessors.

Expect wind, cold track temperatures and low levels of grip to play a factor. We have seen certain manufacturers such as McLaren make no secret that they have a sensitivity to wind, while getting heat into the harder compound tyres may prove tricky.

While not as technically demanding as the Hungaroring, cars with quick cornering speeds will be rewarded in sector two and three.

 

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR

Given that F1 has not visited the circuit in years, determining a winner would be difficult in any other circumstance. However, the W11 has looked strong at most circuits this year and would be expected to continue their dominance here this weekend.  Lewis Hamilton can make history by matching Michael Schumacher’s all time win record of 91 victories in Formula One to cement his legacy as one of the sport’s most successful drivers.

Lewis Hamilton is aiming to equal Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 wins this weekend – Courtesy of Mercedes Media

Further down the order, the fight for third in the constructors will be as tight and enthralling as we have seen all season. McLaren and Racing Point head into the weekend separated by two points while Renault are hot on their heels a further five points behind.

T​he Eifel Grand Prix will also be a historic one for a couple of young drivers currently in Formula 2. Championship leader Mick Schumacher will be rewarded an FP1 outing in the Alfa Romeo for his successes this season, including two victories and a plethora of podiums. It marks the first time a Schumacher will set foot in a Formula 1 car since his father Michael’s retirement in 2012. The Ferrari junior academy driver is touted for a full-time seat in 2021 allegedly alongside Kimi Raikkonen and will be looking to impress.

Mick Schumacher currently leads the F2 Championship – Courtesy of F1 Media

Additionally, championship hopeful Callum Illot will also be given an FP1 outing with Haas after rarely featuring outside the top two in the championship for most of the season. With Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen’s future in doubt, there is a big possibility that he could also be handed a full-time drive next year and will be one to watch closely.

Of course, following the news of Honda’s withdrawal from Formula One in 2022, expect media coverage to follow this news with fervent interest. Speculation is already happening as to what Red Bull’s options are in terms of their future engine supplier. Do they return to Renault? Will they build their own? Will this hamper their 2022 car development? And will this prompt the beginning of the end of the Red Bull – Verstappen love story?

This weekend’s race comes after the news that Honda will pull out of F at the end of next year – Courtesy of Red Bull content pool

Lastly, if weather forecasts are anything to go by in Formula One this year, disregard them entirely. However, rain could play a big part in this weekend with the Eifel Mountains particularly prone to cold and changeable conditions during this time of year. The weather forecast indicates there is strong possibility of rain across the entirety of the weekend which could shake qualifying up magnificently.

With all this in mind the Eifel Grand Prix should be a brilliant event. Make sure not to miss the race which is scheduled for 2:10pm local time, an hour earlier than usual. Set your reminders!

And as ever, ThePitCrewOnline will be here to keep you informed, entertained and up-to-date on all things Formula One throughout the weekend.

IndyCar Harvest GP Race 2: Will Power wins from pole, survives pressure from Herta

Penske’s Will Power fended off a charging Colton Herta to claim his 39th career IndyCar win from pole position at the Harvest GP, now tied 5th on the all-time IndyCar wins list with the legendary Al Unser. Further down the order, Josef Newgarden finished in 4th to cut the championship deficit to Scott Dixon to just 32 points.

Power pulled a healthy 5-second gap from the rest of the field at the start before pitting from the sticker reds onto the slower, but more durable sticker black tyres.

Alexander Rossi was able to reel Power in during the second stint, coming out just two seconds behind the Australian on the blacks while Power had switched back to the reds.

Rossi slowly caught up to the back of Will Power only to be caught up by Colton Herta – also on the sticker reds – who made short work of his Andretti teammate round the outside of turn 1.

Herta, having never finished second or third, was chasing his fourth IndyCar win, staying within a second of Will Power for the last 10 laps. Unfortunately for Herta, Power was able to use his ‘Push to Pass’ effectively to get a good run out of the final corner. That, alongside having a healthy slipstream from a few backmarkers, was enough to make sure Colton could not have a good enough opportunity into turn 1. This gifted Power his second win of the season and moved him into 4th position in the championship standings.

Alexander Rossi rounded out the top three, taking his 24th career podium, ending in style what has been a miserable season for the most part.

Defending champion Josef Newgarden fell from 9th to 11th on the opening laps, only one spot ahead of his championship rival Scott Dixon. However, he was able to make short work of Ryan Hunter-Reay in front and proceeded to work his way up the grid. He made it up to 5th before the first pit stops, and then was able to undercut the Arrow McLaren SP driver Patricio O’Ward for 4th.

Unfortunately for Newgarden, 4th was where he stayed, unable to make any ground on Alexander Rossi, who remained 10 seconds ahead during the final stages of the race.

His 4th place cuts the deficit to Scott Dixon for the 5th race in a row. What was a 117-point lead leaving race 1 of Gateway has now crumbled to just a 32-point lead going to St Petersburg in 3 weeks’ time. It is staggering to think that in just 5 races Newgarden has carved 85 points out of the points lead, an average of 17 points per pace.

With 54 points on offer, Scott Dixon must finish in 9th place (excluding bonus points) at St Petersburg to secure his 6th championship title.

Scott Dixon is inches away from his 6th IndyCar title – Courtesy of IndyCar Media

Pato O’Ward took 4th ahead of Jack Harvey, he and his Meyer Shank Racing team an ever-present challenger at this circuit and buoyed by the recent investment of Formula 1 owner Liberty Media in its squad.

Behind Harvey, Graham Rahal turned a 10th-placed start into seventh, ahead of a typically methodical if not rapid drive from Dixon.

Making up places in the early phases of the race, he came up short against Ryan Hunter-Reay who contacted the Kiwi going into turn 1, putting a hole into the right-side underwing of his car.

Seemingly unphased by this damage, Dixon claimed 9th by passing Santino Ferrucci and by benefitting from positions gained during the first pit stops.

He ran eighth for the last stint but was unable to overturn Rahal.

Rookie Alex Palou of Dale Coyne and 19th-place starter Simon Pagenaud rounded out the top 10.

The final race of the season at the Firestone Grand Prix of St.Petersburg will crown another champion in either Dixon or Newgarden on October 25.

RACE CLASSIFICATION

1 Will Power Team Penske
2 Colton Herta Andretti Harding
3 Alexander Rossi Andretti Autosport
4 Josef Newgarden Team Penske
5 Patricio O’Ward Arrow McLaren SP
6 Jack Harvey Meyer Shank Racing
7 Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan
8 Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing
9 Alex Palou Dale Coyne Racing
10 Simon Pagenaud Team Penske
11 Felix Rosenqvist Chip Ganassi Racing
12 Santino Ferrucci Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan
13 James Hinchcliffe Andretti Autosport
14 Takuma Sato Rahal Letterman Lanigan
15 Marcus Ericsson Chip Ganassi Racing
16 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport
17 Rinus Van Kalmthout Ed Carpenter Racing
18 Sebastien Bourdais A.J. Foyt Enterprises
19 Max Chilton Carlin
20 Conor Daly Ed Carpenter Racing
21 Helio Castroneves Arrow McLaren SP
22 Marco Andretti Andretti Autosport
23 Charlie Kimball A.J. Foyt Enterprises
24 Sage Karam Dreyer & Reinbold
25 Dalton Kellett A.J. Foyt Enterprises

Feature Image Courtesy of IndyCar Media

IndyCar Harvest GP: Newgarden victory keeps title fight alive. Maiden podium for Rinus VeeKay.

image courtesy of IndyCar & Chris Owens

Josef Newgarden landed a crushing blow to Scott Dixon’s championship lead, gaining his 20th career IndyCar victory at the IMS, his 3rd this season. The New Zealander would eventually finish down in ninth after a late and costly mistake.

Dutchman Rinus VeeKay led from pole position from Colton Herta, and managed to pull a healthy gap on the rest of the field after starting on the faster sticker red tyres.

However, Herta started on the sticker blacks, going further on his first stint, looking to make up the time with the faster tyre on the second stint. This tactic proved to be successful, passing the Dutchman after the first pit stop with an audacious dummy move down the inside of turn 7.

Josef Newgarden also chose to start on the sticker blacks. Managing to go 10 laps longer than his rivals, he was able to come out ahead of Colton Herta after the pit stops into the lead of the race.

But came back fighting did Herta. Using up all his push to pash to catch Newgarden, diving to the inside of Turn 1 to take the race lead back from the two-time champion.

Following the second pit stop all of the top three chose to go onto the sticker reds, emerging with Herta in front, followed by Newgarden and VeeKay. Herta would unfortunately struggle with his rear tyres, prompting a lock up on lap 60, gifting the lead back to Newgarden before putting again.

Newgarden would follow, both opting for the sticker blacks. However, the two time champion was able to magnificently pull away from the rest of the field, enough to seal his first career win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

This win cuts the championship gap to 40 points with 108 remaining over the next two races, one of which comes tomorrow with the second of the doubleheader weekend. What was seemingly an unassailable championship fight going into Mid-Ohio in September, now seems like a mouth-watering prospect as Newgarden chases his third and what would be his most incredible championship.

Colton Herta on the other hand, would fall under the pressure of a charging Felix Rosenqvist, who had dropped as low as 10th before fighting back to the podium. Although, an unsuccessful pass on Herta would drop him into the clutches of Alexander Rossi who would steamroll through both Rosenqvist and Herta for a second-place finish. Rossi was visibly irritated following the race due to a penalty brought on by exceeding track limits. It marks another string of penalties at the IMS for Rossi who is starting to make something of a habit of it at this circuit.

Image courtesy of IndyCar by Doug Matthews

Rinus VeeKay, who had done so well to put that Ed Carpenter Racing car on pole position, had to make up for lost ground during the pit stops, but saved the majority of his push to pass to overtake both Herta in fourth and Roseqnvist in fifth to take his first IndyCar podium in style.

Behind them, a titanic battle ensued with Will Power who suffered due to a stuck front-right wheel during his first pit stop as well as experiencing a huge slide going into turn 1 that could have easily ended his race. Behind him was Graham Rahal and Jack Harvey who were able to capitalise on a unusual late mistake from Scott Dixon who ran wide onto the grass, to finish in a disappointing ninth. Rounded out the top ten was Marcus Ericsson marking a solid day for Chip Ganassi who featured every car in the top ten.

The race ran without a caution period but Marco Andretti was forced to retire with a handful of laps remaining after the rear caught fire. Andretti was able to bring the car back to the pits for his pit crew to put it out.

RACE CLASSIFICATION

1 Josef Newgarden
2 Alexander Rossi
3 Rinus VeeKay (R)
4 Colton Herta
5 Felix Rosenqvist
6 Will Power
7 Graham Rahal
8 Jack Harvey
9 Scott Dixon
10 Marcus Ericsson
11 Max Chilton
12 Conor Daly
13 Charlie Kimball
14 James Hinchcliffe
15 Santino Ferrucci
16 Simon Pagenaud
17 Alex Palou (R)
18 Takuma Sato
19 Ryan Hunter-Reay
20 Helio Castroneves
21 Sebastien Bourdais
22 Pato O’Ward
23 Sage Karam
24 Dalton Kellett (R)
25 Marco Andretti

IndyCar Harvest GP Preview

image courtesy of IndyCar

The first Indy Harvest Classic was held way back in 1916, so here we are in 2020, about to witness the next running, now called the Indy Harvest GP, to be run in two parts on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 2.439-mile road course Friday and Saturday, October 2-3. Races 12/13 of the NTT IndyCar Series were a somewhat late addition to the often-altered season schedule and will precede Sunday’s 8-Hour GT World Challenge America endurance race.

The previous IMS road course race (the GMR GP) was held during July’s Brickyard weekend after its traditional May running was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Dixon’s Chip Ganassi Honda ran away with the race after a full-course caution shuffled the field on lap 36/80. Dixon had stopped three laps earlier while the leaders at the time pitted under caution after Oliver Askew’s crash. Following the green flag, Dixon chased down then leader Graham Rahal on Lap 48 and cruised to a 19.9-second victory after leading 26 laps; his first GMR win after three runner-up finishes. Rahal was second with Jack Harvey taking his first podium finish in third.

This event will mark the eighth and ninth times that the IMS road course has hosted an IndyCar race. So far, only Simon Pagenaud (three times), Will Power (also three times) and Scott Dixon have won here. Power has started from pole position here four times, with the other three poles going to Sebastian Saavedra, Pagenaud and Felix Rosenqvist.

Seven drivers are still mathematically eligible for the 2020 IndyCar championship. Dixon on 456 points, Josef Newgarden -72, Pato O’Ward -118, Colton Herta -129, Will Power -150, Graham Rahal -155 and Takuma Sato -156. There will be no double-points available at the St. Petersburg finale, however. So with a maximum of 54 points available from any race (50 for the win, 1 for pole, 2 for leading most laps, 1 for leading a lap), drivers emerging from Friday’s race more than 108 points behind Dixon will be out of the title running. Dixon will clinch his sixth championship a race early if he is more than 54 points ahead of his nearest pursuer come Saturday evening.

 

DRIVER CHANGES

Helio Castroneves will be temporarily replacing Oliver Askew in the Arrow McLaren SP after he was deemed not medically fit to race. It marks the third time in three years that the Indianapolis 500 winner has taken part in the Indy Road Course since his retirement from full-time racing.

Sebastien Bourdais returns this weekend taking the third A.J Foyt Racing entry, joining with Charlie Kimball and Dalton Kellett for the final three races.

Conor Daly is back with Ed Carpenter for his usual road course duties while Dryer & Reinbold will extend its schedule, entering Sage Karam for the weekend.

Finally, Zach Veach has permanently stepped out of the Andretti Autosport No. 26, making way for James Hinchcliffe for the remaining races and perhaps next season. Hinchliffe had driven for Andretti up until the 2015 season when he moved to Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

 

OUTLOOK FOR THE WIN

In my opinion you cannot overlook the Penske drivers for this race, who have won a staggering five out of the last six iterations of this race. Will Power has won here three out of six in that time and will be looking to improve on his race winning performance at Mid-Ohio.

Remember it was Power who led from pole position this time back in July when a poorly timed caution cycled him back into the pack. He will have the ‘bit between his teeth’ to right that wrong and push for a top three championship position.

 

OTHERS TO LOOK OUT FOR

As we go into this race Rinus VeeKay still leads the coveted ‘Rookie of the Year’ title 39 points ahead of his nearest challenger Alex Palou. With Askew withdrawn, there is very little competition going this weekend. Rinus has been consistent and has pulled off some staggering overtakes this year. I expect him to carry on in a similar fashion this weekend.

Also, I fully expect Colton Herta to do what he has been doing all season. In his sophomore season, he is currently fourth in the standings with both a win and a pole position to his name. His win last weekend was a just-reward for his performances lately, and I expect, with a few improvements here and there, that he will be a fully fledged title contender in the years to come.

 

WHAT TIME IS THE RACE?

There are two!

THURSDAY 01 OCTOBER

14:15 EST / 19:15 GMT – Practice

18:20 EST / 23:20 GMT – Qualifying

 

FRIDAY 02 OCTOBER

15:30 EST / 20:30 GMT – Race 1

 

SATURDAY 03 OCTOBER

10:20 EST / 15:20 GMT – Qualifying

14:30 EST / 19:30 GMT – Race 2

 

WHERE CAN I WATCH THE RACE?

Coverage in the UK for the races will be on Sky Sports F1. However, you can also read our session reports right here, on ThePitCrewOnline.

IndyCar Mid-Ohio Race 2: Colton Herta and Andretti Autosport sweep podium.

image courtesy of IndyCar

It has been a fifteen year wait for the Andretti Autosport team but they have finally achieved a team sweep of the podium at Mid-Ohio, ending the double-header in style. The race was dominated by young superstar Colton Herta getting his third IndyCar career win, his first of the 2020 season.

Following a magnificent pole position start, his fourth of his career, the son of Bryan Herta led from start to finish, untroubled by second place teammate Alexander Rossi.

The driver of the No. 27 Honda finished 1.3826 seconds back for his second podium of the weekend and third of the year. Just over one second back came veteran Ryan Hunter-Reay, giving Andretti Autosport three podium finishes on Sunday alone and four on the weekend after just one in the previous nine races.

“I’m so happy. We’ve been knocking on the door almost every week, and we’ve had the pace, but just some reason or another, this or that, things have gone wrong,”

 Herta said on the post-race broadcast after leading 57 of the 75 laps Sunday:

“We just need to be finishing on the podium more, maybe every other weekend. It seems like only when we win, we get up here, so if we could fill in some of those spots, we’d be good.”

This win moves Herta into fourth place in the series championship, eclipsing both yesterdays winner Will Power and Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato. A worthy prize for a young racer who has been one of the standout drivers this season with eight top ten finishes in ten starts before Sunday.

“That’s so huge, so huge. Thank god we came here to Mid-Ohio,” said team owner Michael Andretti post-race on the broadcast. “I was a little worried we weren’t gonna be able to get here, but those guys at Green Savoree Racing Promotions did a good job getting this race on. After the way things have gone this year, this is huge for the team.”

Added Rossi:

“I’m so happy for Andretti Autosport. It’s been a terrible year for us, and to do this, that’s just huge. Hats off to Colton and the No. 88 team, but to sweep the podium, that’s very cool. We’re just focused on race wins and building a good foundation for next year, and we’re doing that with this now.”

However, it could have been very different for the team as Herta narrowly missed what could have been a race ending incident on lap one when Santino Ferrucci ran off-track at turn 4 only to re-join and collide with teammate Alex Palou and Chip Ganassi’s Felix Roseqnvist. Both of their races ended they’re with Santino being sent to the back of the grid for avoidable contact.

Following a period of caution the field pitted on lap sixteen that saw Alexander Rossi cycle up from tenth to fourth, Hunter-Reay from eight to third, Power from seventeenth to tenth and O’Ward from twenty first to fourteenth.

During this time Takuma Sato and Marco Andretti stayed out attempting to go long into the race and attempt a strong overcut which proved effective in yesterdays race. Unfortunately, their efforts would be in vain after Marco lost the car into the gravel not soon after, and after Sato failed to make much ground, finishing outside the top ten.

Another memorable moment came on lap 22 when championship leader Scott Dixon, who had been following Herta and Rossi, came out of shape and spun into the grass. A rare mistake from the five time champion that sent him right to the back of the pack. He would eventually spend the rest of the race fighting back through the pack with some audacious moves on the likes of Jack Harvey and Rinus VeeKay, eventually finishing in tenth, just two spots behind runner up in the championship Josef Newgarden.

An ‘off weekend’ for the Kiwi which saw his lead in the championship cut by twenty four points.

“I got a little too aggressive there and hit the overtake on the exit, and it was just too much power,” Dixon said. “I spun the tires and the car. It was a stupid mistake I shouldn’t have made. It should have been an easy points day.”

Following Hunter-Reay’s season-best third, Graham Rahal finished fourth for the second time this weekend, with Marcus Ericsson climbing from a 15th-place start to end fifth.

Graham Rahal interestingly now sits sixth in the championship standings alongside his Rahal Letterman teammate Takuma Sato in seventh. Separated by one point.

It was a Penske trio finishing sixth, seventh and eighth with Simon Pagenaud, Power, and Newgarden. A slow pit-stop by Josef Newgarden caused himself and teammate Will Power to have a drag race out the pits in which Power came out victorious. The status-quo remained the same for most of the race.

Patricio O’Ward, third place in the championship, started in eleventh on the grid and held his own from a late-charging Scott Dixon to round out the top ten.

Other notable results were highest placed rookie, Rinus VeeKay who extended his lead in the ‘Rookie of the season’ standings, while beating his Ed Carpenter Racing teammate Conor Daly.

IndyCar now has a two to three week break until we return to the Indianapolis Road Course for the Harvest GP on October 2nd and 3rd.

Official Classification:

  1. (1) Colton Herta
  2. (10) Alexander Rossi
  3. (8) Ryan Hunter-Reay
  4. (12) Graham Rahal
  5. (15) Marcus Ericsson
  6. (6) Simon Pagenaud
  7. (17) Will Power
  8. (9) Josef Newgarden
  9. (21) Pato O’Ward
  10. (3) Scott Dixon
  11. (11) Rinus VeeKay
  12. (19) Jack Harvey
  13. (18) Max Chilton
  14. (2) Santino Ferrucci
  15. (14) Oliver Askew
  16. (16) Conor Daly
  17. (13) Zach Veach
  18. (22) Takuma Sato
  19. (23) Charlie Kimball
  20. (7) Marco Andretti
  21. (20) Dalton Kellett
  22. (5) Felix Rosenqvist
  23. (4) Alex Palou

IndyCar Mid-Ohio: Will Power dominates to take first win of 2020

image courtesy of IndyCar

Will Power dominates at Mid-Ohio to take his first win of the 2020 IndyCar season and his maiden win at Mid-Ohio. The Australian was barely troubled leading from lights out to chequered flag at a circuit that he has finished in the top five in eight out of his previous eleven outings.

Following the race, Power was elated saying:

“That’s probably the first race in 10 years that I’ve just gone hard. I just said, ‘Screw this, let’s just go hard and use my raw pace and see what happens.’ We won the race, it was a great strategy. … It’s great to tick off Mid-Ohio.”

This will be a welcome positive in a season that has been blighted with unreliability, bad pit stops and other calamities which have made this a season to forget for the one time series champion. Additionally, it was a great day for Penske who finished both first and second with Josef Newgarden.

Rain threatened the race with five laps to go, but in typical motorsport fashion stayed clear until after the chequered flag.

Newgarden’s second place is important in terms of the championship, cutting the deficit to Scott Dixon to 75 points. Certainly not an insurmountable target with just under five races to go.

Someone who enjoyed a fantastic day was Andretti’s Alexander Rossi was able to hold off Rahal Letterman’s Graham Rahal in the closing stages. Earlier in the race, the ex-Formula One driver decided to try the overcut-on competitors Ryan Hunter-Reay and Graham Rahal. Rossi was putting in some blistering in laps using his ‘push to pass’ off the corners to gain as much lap time as possible. When he eventually came into the pits, he was released back out behind Ryan Hunter-Reay, albeit much closer than before.

Following a close fight between both teammates Rossi got on the radio to get Hunter-Reay to move aside as the likes of Felix Rosenqvist closed in. The team eventually caved in and allowed Rossi to eventually overtake Rahal to claim third position. The last ten laps were a tense fight between Rahal and Rossi in which the latter came out victorious.

Ryan Hunter-Reay would eventually finish in fifth, ahead of Chip Ganassi driver Felix Rosenqvist who found much more pace on a road course which he is used to. Felix was the highest placed Ganassi car at Mid-Ohio, a magnificent achievement for the young-super star.

Jack Harvey continued a super run of form finishing in seventh position, his fourth top ten of the season. The British driver pitted early, attempting the undercut on many of his fellow competitors to claim my self-prescribed title of: ‘best of the rest’

Colton Herta had a dramatic race of epic proportions finishing in eight place. Starting outside the top ten, the young-gun opted to start on sticker black tyres, attempting to go longer into the race. However, it wasn’t as simple as it turned out. A battle ensued with the likes of Santino Ferrucci, Rinus VeeKay and Marco Andretti. Herta made his way past VeeKay in the hunt for fellow countryman, Santino. After a slow pit stop, caused after Colton had to put on the brakes during Alexander Rossi’s stop, the time lost put him out into a scrap with championship leader Scott Dixon. The next stage of the race involved a titanic fight between these two which Herta won with a gutsy move down the inside. Pitting late on the final pit stop cycle would hand him his fully deserved final classification.

Ed Carpenter Racing duo Rinus VeeKay and Conor Daly rounded out the top ten in magnificent style. Perhaps the greatest moment of the race was VeeKay’s audacious move on Dalton Kellet and Colton Herta, the Dutchman caught them both napping and passed them with an exhilarating move around the outside. Rinus was once again the highest place rookie, extending his position in the standings as ‘Rookie of the Year’.

Outside the top ten it was a miserable day for championship contenders Scott Dixon and Patricio O’Ward who bravely fought their way back to eleventh and twelfth respectively. Both enjoyed some incredible wheel to wheel battles, trying to claw back some of the advantage Newgarden had gained. O’Ward will be disappointed not to capitalise on Dixon’s poor qualifying, now 79 points behind. Even more worrying will be his deficit to second place Josef Newgarden (33 points).

Further ramifications for the championship include Will Power moving up into fourth position in the standings on 76 points, three behind the McLaren SP driver.

To our delight, IndyCar goes again for the second race of the double-header tomorrow.

Official Classification
1st – Will Power
2nd – Josef Newgarden
3rd – Alexander Rossi
4th – Graham Rahal
5th – Ryan Hunter-Reay
6th – Felix Rosenqvist
7th – Jack Harvey
8th – Rinus VeeKay
9th – Colton Herta
10th – Scott Dixon
11th – Pato O’Ward
12th – Alex Palou
13th – Conor Daly
14th – Santino Ferrucci
15th – Marcus Ericsson
16th – Max Chilton
17th – Takuma Sato
18th – Simon Pagenaud
19th – Oliver Askew
20th – Zach Veach
21st – Charlie Kimball
22nd – Dalton Kellett
23rd – Marco Andretti