Archive for May, 2012

Thoughts on the 2012 Indy 500 – replay 8PM this Wednesday on Sky Sports F1

Well the 2012 Indy 500 has been and gone, and what a race!

There was a lot of pressure to perform. The first oval race for the new DW12 cars and the new Honda, Lotus and Chevrolet engines was the flagship 500 mile 200 lap ‘Greatest Spectacle in Racing’ and what the series did not need was a lucklustre race dominated by poor handling, poor speed and poor reliability.

As it turns out they needn’t have worried! The race was fantastic.

Run in sweltering heat, we broke the all time record for number of lead changes, and we saw exciting passing through the pack. Reliability was surprisingly good and the attrition rate wasn’t much worse than usual.

Sure race director Beaux Barfield had to park the two lotuses early after they failed to make the 105% pace, but at least we had 33 starters and three manufacturers lining up.

The cars, without push to pass, didn’t need push to pass, as passing moves came thick and fast from the first lap.

Fuel mileage and top speed variances between the different engine manufacturers kept the strategy fascinating, and although Honda had clearly upped their game since qualifying, the results show a good mix of Honda and Chevy at the sharp end.

I don’t want to give away spoilers so I will leave it to Speed to give the full race report, but believe me when I say it was brilliant!! Curt Cavin has also written a race report for Indystar.com, and I have to tip my hat to Curt for his tip to back Sato for the race. I got odds of 66:1 via Sky Bet.

Keith Heuwen and the team in the UK provided a great UK-focused addition to the ABC coverage, with plenty of Twitter interaction via the new @skyindycar feed to fill the gaps in the ABC commentary. The race went out on Sky Sports 4 HD. If you don’t have Sky Sports 4 but can get Sky Sports F1, you can see the re-run in full this Wednesday at 8pm. I recommend that you do!

I hear dark mutterings that Roger Penske is in dispute with series boss Randy Bernard over engine parity and fines issued over the month of May. I hope this can be resolved without any further calls for Randy to be replaced because I think this weekend proves he is doing a great job in less than ideal circumstances. If anything Mr Penske’s attitude this month shows the futility of hoping for a series run by the teams for the teams. They will quite simply never be able to agree when it comes to decisions that harm one team and benefits another.

Let’s end on a happy note which Team Penske may like to reflect on: The Indy 500 is run on the same day as the Monaco Grand Prix and the Coke 600 NASCAR race. This year’s 500 was easily the most exciting of the three races, and that can only be good for the series. Next year we get aerokits, a bigger field providing true ‘will they make the race’ action on bump day, push to pass, a hope (plea!?) that Lotus will have found some pace – and all building on a strong foundation of a great 2012.

It’s been a long time since the future looked this good for IndyCar.

Thoughts on Unpredictable F1

With 5 winners from 5 races, dramatic swings in form, and upsets of the established order, mutterings of concern are beginning to be heard amongst the excitement of the unpredictability.

The concern takes many forms, but recurring themes are:

The arbitrary nature of the tyre wear and its impact on performance.

Lack of consistency in tyre performance from track to track meaning teams cannot be rewarded for efforts made in understanding tyres.

The fact that the need to manage tyres leads to drivers not pushing at 100% throughout the race.

On balance though, I’ve decided that we should calm down. The car with the fastest package on the day is still winning, and it’s still the stronger drivers doing best. If we’d had a day where Felipe Massa suddenly got lucky and lapped 5 seconds a lap quicker than Alonso, or the Caterham got hooked up and blitzed the Bahrain circuit, I’d agree we have a problem.

But as long as the cream keeps rising to the top, I think everyone else is just wingeing.

So enjoy the mayhem, but don’t be surprised to see Vettel, Hamilton and Alonso as the top three come the end of the final race.