We’ve suspected this for many years and now it’s official. The Indianapolis 500 is no longer a reasonable aspiration for most racing drivers, blogs Stephen Cox.

    Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) president Doug Boles was kind enough to talk with me briefly at the annual PRI trade show in Indy. I asked him what his plan was to increase the number of entries at the Indianapolis 500. His answer took me by surprise.

    “We grew up falling in love with the sport when you had that number of entries,” Boles said. “A lot of those entries were guys who sat around in December and said, ‘You know what? We’re going to build a car in our garage and we’re going to enter it at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Indy 500.’”

    “But first and foremost in my mind is just really safety. I don’t think it makes sense for us to get back to fifty or sixty cars just from a safety standpoint,” Boles continued. “I’d love to see fifty or sixty or seventy cars entering and guys just being able to decide that they have a driver who’s running at Putnamville and we’re going to give him a shot to run at the Speedway. I just don’t think it’s practical anymore.”

    Let that statement sink in. American short track drivers – who routinely filled the field until the 1980s – are now considered unsafe and incapable of running the Indy 500.

    Don’t ever go back to the speedway and expect to find the next A. J. Foyt or Parnelli Jones. There won’t be one. Nor will you ever see another Stan Fox or Rich Vogler claw their way up through the ranks and make it to Indy. For that matter, we’re also unlikely to ever see another Rick Mears or Robby Gordon. Those guys got to Indy through off-road desert racing, not Indycar’s current ladder system. They would likely be considered unsafe at the speedway today.

    Boles countered by saying, “We have the best on-track product that we’ve ever had in the history of the speedway with the last five years. The number of lead changes we have, the number of cars in the field that have a chance of winning it.”

    True, recent events have had a certain NASCAR-green-white-checkered-overtime excitement to them. However, this was not achieved by eliminating drivers of sprint cars, off-road trucks, midgets, late-models or amateur sports cars from the speedway. It was achieved – if indeed, this can be called an “achievement” at all – through regulation.

    More teams are in contention because everyone is forced to use the same spec car. The additional lead changes were artificially created through “push to pass” legislation and turbo boost mandates. Using this logic, even better races could be manufactured by enacting a rule disqualifying anyone who leads two consecutive laps, thus assuring 249 lead changes in every 500!

    The bottom line is this – SCCA drivers are welcome to compete at IMS in the Run Offs. SVRA drivers are welcome to Indy’s vintage event. Short track drivers are welcome to buy tickets and sit in Turn Three.

    But the speedway has no intention of enlarging the field past forty cars and creating space that could be filled by new drivers from other disciplines. That is bad news for thousands of very good racing drivers worldwide. And it is even worse news for the Indianapolis 500 itself, whose relevancy continues to fade.

    Continue Reading…

  • Grid penalties for Sainz and Hulkenberg

    Nico Hulkenberg has been given a one-place grid penalty for the German Grand Prix.

    Force India were found to have used a set of tyres during qualifying which they had notified the FIA would not be used following the final practice session. Teams are required to return one set of tyres before qualifying begins.

    These tyres are scanned electronically to notify the FIA they will no longer be used. However one of the scanned sets was fitted to Hulkenberg’s car during qualifying in error.

    Hulkenberg’s comparatively light sanction sees him moved back one place on the grid from seventh to eighth, promoting Valtteri Bottas.

    Carlos Sainz meanwhile was driver was found to have held Felipe Massa up at turn two during Q2.

    Sainz failed to progress beyond that stage of qualifying while Massa was eliminated.

    Sainz was also given a three place grid penalty and two penalty points for the incident. The penalty drops him from 13th on the grid to 16th.

  • German Grand Prix grid

    By , , Permalink
    Row 1 1. Nico Rosberg 1’14.363
    2. Lewis Hamilton 1’14.470
    Row 2 3. Daniel Ricciardo 1’14.726
    Red Bull
    4. Max Verstappen 1’14.834
    Red Bull
    Row 3 5. Kimi Raikkonen 1’15.142
    6. Sebastian Vettel 1’15.315
    Row 4 7. Nico Hulkenberg 1’15.510
    Force India
    8. Valtteri Bottas 1’15.530
    Row 5 9. Sergio Perez 1’15.537
    Force India
    10. Felipe Massa 1’15.615
    Row 6 11. Esteban Gutierrez 1’15.883
    12. Jenson Button 1’15.909
    Row 7 13. Carlos Sainz Jnr 1’15.989
    Toro Rosso
    14. Fernando Alonso 1’16.041
    Row 8 15. Jolyon Palmer 1’16.665
    16. Kevin Magnussen 1’16.716
    Row 9 17. Pascal Wehrlein 1’16.717
    18. Daniil Kvyat 1’16.876
    Toro Rosso
    Row 10 19. Rio Haryanto 1’16.977
    20. Romain Grosjean* 1’16.086
    Row 11 21. Felipe Nasr 1’17.123
    22. Marcus Ericsson 1’17.238
  • Rosberg takes pole after engine issues

    German GP: Rosberg snatches pole despite engine cut-out scareNico Rosberg will start the German Grand Prix from pole position, after beating his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in qualifying at Hockenheim.

    Rosberg was forced to abort his first Q3 run due to an “electronic error” that briefly cut the engine.

    But his second lap gave him pole which was “a fantastic lap in the circumstances” according to the pitwall, as he ran with enough fuel for two laps instead of one in case he made a mistake on his first attempt.

    It was Rosberg’s fifth pole of the season – 30 years on from his father Keke starting from pole here for McLaren – and came after setting the pace in every practice session all weekend.

    It had looked like Hamilton would score his seventh pole of the season, but a scrappy second run, which included a huge lock-up at the hairpin, cos him dearly. He will start second.

    Daniel Ricciardo will start third for Red Bull, bemoaning “losing the rear at Turn 8” on his final attack, ahead of teammate Max Verstappen.

    Kimi Raikkonen outqualified Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari, who locked out the third row.

  • Rosberg takes last gasp pole in Hungary

    Nico Rosberg will start on pole position after a stunning last lap in qualifying that saw him pip his team mate Lewis Hamilton.

    The world champion was forced to slow down when Fernando Alonso spun in front of him and while others also had to compromise their laps, Rosberg was just able to get away without slowing and snatched pole in the dying moments.

    Q1 was delayed by around 15 minutes when heavy rain soaked the circuit just before it was due to begin.

    When it did eventually get back underway again it lasted for just a couple of minutes with the red flags brought back out when rain returned.

    At that moment, Sergio Perez headed up a Force India one-two while at the back were the two Mercedes drivers.

    The session restarted but only for a few minutes before Marcus Ericsson crashed at turn eight and the red flag came out.

    Felipe Massa was one of the first to switch onto intermediate tyres and he strayed too far over the white line at turn four and spun into the barriers, these brought another red flag.

    The cars were back out on track with five minutes to go until the final 100 seconds when Manor’s Rio Haryanto crashed at turn eight bringing Q1 to an early end almost an hour after it started.

    The two Renault’s suffered most from this who were caught out by the red flags and both Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen were knocked out

    Q2 was all about the switch onto the dry tyres and the final minute saw the times tumble by almsot three seconds.

    With just seconds to go, Kimi Raikkonen went fastest, but with the rapidly evolving track, the Finn was knocked out along with Romain Grosjean, Daniil Kvyat, Sergio Perez.

    Raikkonen slots in next ahead of Esteban Gutierrez and Felipe Nasr who had good pace in the rain earlier on.

    Red Bull were close but Mercedes were too strong for them in Q3, Hamilton looked set to take pole especially once Alonso spun which brought out the waved double yellow flags.

    All the other drivers were forced to slow down, but Rosberg who was slow in sector one, was at the right point of the track at the right time and was able to sneak to pole.

    He will start ahead of Hamilton, Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel