On tap this week:
- Rosberg's Charles Atlas moment
- Girl racers still face barriers
- Ricciardo hoping for history repeat
- IndyCar looking at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park?
- Quote of the Week: Hinchcliffe gets squeezed
- Two Canadians to watch in NASCAR trucks
Charles Atlas would be proud of Nico Rosberg after yesterday’s Belgian Grand Prix.
A month after teammate Lewis Hamilton ran Rosberg off the track late in the previous race in Hungary, the German’s actions on Sunday at the Spa-Francorchamps Circuit made it clear that he will no longer let anyone kick sand in his face .
Two laps into Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix, Rosberg flexed his muscles and refused to give his teammate room early in the Belgian Grand Prix, standing his ground on an overtaking effort which ended in a flat left rear tire for Hamilton and a broken front wing for Rosberg, not to mention boiling tempers among the Mercedes bosses.
Rosberg recovered to finish second after needing a new nose cone, while Hamilton’s damage was much worse and he retired from the race with a few laps to go. Rosberg now holds a 29-point lead on Hamilton with seven races left in the 2014 season. Drivers get 25 points for a win.
According to Hamilton, Rosberg told his teammate in a Mercedes meeting after the race that he did not back down “to prove a point.”
And whether Hamilton fans like it or not, it was a point Rosberg needed to make.
The July 27 Hungarian Grand Prix, before the series’ month-long summer break, wasn’t the first time Hamilton bullied his teammate and it was time that Rosberg emulated the 97-pound weakling who gets sand kicked in his face by bullies and then bulks up to wallop his tormentors in the iconic 1940s Charles Atlas body building system ads.
The difference is that when Hamilton pushed his teammate off the track earlier this year in Bahrain in a move that Rosberg called “over the line,” the German backed off and drove home to second rather than risk another pass attempt. It now seems perfectly clear that Rosberg won’t be too eager to swallow hard and follow his teammate home again.
Interestingly, Rosberg may have foreshadowed the events in Spa when he told reporters in the run-up to the Belgian Grand Prix that he had learned from what happened the race in Hungary when Hamilton refused to obey team orders to let him pass to optimize his strategy before running him off the track later in the grand prix.
It was a point he stressed again when asked after the race if the team had outlined what is and isn’t acceptable to its drivers.
“The battle between us is something that we have discussed many, many times, yes of course, and the guidelines from the team – we know what they are and they’re quite clear,” Rosberg said.
“In fact it wasn’t that specific to Hungary at all, just generally, of course, it’s been discussed, yeah, especially after Bahrain, for example. That was a discussion topic.”
Random Thoughts: Young women in racing now have several role models to emulate, whether it’s ground breakers like Janet Guthrie, Lyn St. James and Shirley Muldowney or the most recent crop of successful female drivers like Ashley Force, Danica Patrick, Simona di Silvestro and Susie Wolff.
And you would think that having women competing at the highest levels of racing makes it easier for those getting into the sport.
But it’s not always so says Amy Castell, who insisted that being a girl racer sometimes means being saddled with added baggage.
“I think starting it was more that you had to prove yourself but I think that’s more in our heads coming in as girls,” said Castell who races in the Toyo Tires F1600 Series.
“No one really cares here [in the F1600 Series] because there have been a few girls coming through here who have been really good; you have to prove yourself as a driver here, not as a girl. But you don’t get that everywhere: In karting, I didn’t have that and had to work really hard to be one of the guys.”
Once the helmet goes on in F1600, Castell, 19, doesn’t get any special treatment or have other drivers come after her because she’s a girl, and that’s exactly the way she wants it.
“It would be worse with special treatment because you don’t develop as a driver,” she said. “You can’t develop if someone isn’t pushing you.”
By the Numbers: With his third win of the season on Sunday in Belgium, Red Bull Racing driver Daniel Ricciardo sliced the deficit to second in the Formula One points standings to just 35 with seven grands prix to go.
The gap is only six points more than the second-placed man Lewis Hamilton needs to make up to catch leader and Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg.
It may just make the run to the title that much more interesting as the top two teammates continue their acrimonious battle for the 2014 championship. That's because having one team's two drivers split the points to allow a third to sneak up the middle and steal the world championship isn't unprecedented in F1, and Ricciardo seems to know it.
"If we can collect maximum points around here [Belgium], you know it gives us a bit more hope for the circuits that are going to come later in the season: Singapore, Suzuka [Japan], just a couple to mention," Ricciardo said after his win in the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday.
"Obviously it's great. We're really motivated right now. [The next race in] Monza we know will be tricky again, but obviously the package we brought here was pretty racy, so, try and take something from here to Monza and then I think, as I said, Singapore and Suzuka will be pretty good for us."
In 1986, Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet Sr. won nine of the 16 races for Williams only to watch McLaren's Alain Prost snatch the title from their grasp in the final race of the year. Prost won the championship by two points.
Twenty-one years later, McLaren was the victim when teammates Fernando Alonso and Hamilton engaged in a pitched battle all year and took wins in eight of 17 starts. Their fight left the door open for Ferrari's Kimi Räikkönen, who leapfrogged both with a season-ending win in Brazil and took the 2007 title over both by a single point.
Technically Speaking: It appears that an IndyCar race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP) continues to be possible in 2015 as the series continues to explore options in Canada should the city's hosting of the Pam-American games next summer scuttle its Toronto stop.
The only date that's been made available to the Toronto promoters right now for the streets of Exhibition Place is apparently June 8, which happens to be the traditional spot for the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal. Simply put, having IndyCar in Toronto on the same day as the country's largest annual sporting event would be idiotic and would go a long way to kill an already wounded race.
IndyCar insider Robin Miller of Racer Magazine reported on the weekend that the series’ track consultant, Tony Cotman, traveled to Bowmanville, Ont., last week to inspect CTMP. As things stand, CTMP is only being considered as a back-up to Exhibition Place.
The legendary circuit which hosted F1 and the old United States Auto Club forerunner to IndyCar decades ago would need upgrades to accommodate the safety requirements of the fast open wheel cars.
While it is only considered a back up if things go wrong in Toronto, several run-off areas at CTMP would need to be increased. That said, the track has hosted races of the old American Le Mans Series that featured amazingly quick Prototype cars. The lap record is held by the Audi R10 TDI driven by Dindo Capello at 1 minute 4.094 seconds for an average speed of 222.254 km/h. An IndyCar may be a couple of seconds quicker than the LMP1 Audi, with an F1 car likely lapping the track in an estimated 55 seconds. That would mean the upgrades likely wouldn't be that massive or complex.
But the series might want to do something about a one-minute lap and a possible solution could be to add some kind of slow complex of corners at the end of the long Andretti straight, which now flows into a fast right-hander heading to the final two turns before the start-finish straight.
Quote of the Week: "It wasn't the day we planned for, obviously. On the first lap going into Turn 2, [Ganassi driver] Scott [Dixon] just really didn't give me enough room. He didn't do anything intentional but he pinched me right down to the curb. I tried to get out of his way; he had plenty of track to the left but decided to use all the track I was trying to use and ended up spinning us. That absolutely murdered our day and he gets away scot free. It's kind of disappointing. Our day was done two corners in. We did what we could to battle back to 12th, but it's tough back there. I'm really disappointed. Again, it kind of sums up the year that we've had."
— 2014 Hard Luck candidate and IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe, of Oakville, Ont., describing yet another race where something beyond his control went wrong and ruined his day. He started Sunday's GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma fourth before disaster struck again.
The Last Word: The Camping World Truck Series rolls into Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP) on the weekend with two Canadians to watch in the field.
The first is open wheel veteran Alex Tagliani, who will drive the No. 19 Ford for Brad Keselowski Racing. With all his experience and road racing prowess, Tagliani goes into the weekend as the odd-on favourite to win. The Lachenaie, Que., native also gets handed a truck coming off a victory in Bristol on the weekend scored by the team owner. It has four top-5 results in 13 races this year.
Tagliani has started two NASCAR Nationwide races on road courses this year with Team Penske and has a pair of top-5 finishes.
The second Canadian to keep an eye on is Calgary teen Cameron Hayley, who is a regular in the K&N Pro Series East this year. The 18-year-old is second overall in the point standings after 14 races with one pole and six top-5 finishes this year.
Hayley may be the country's best candidate to make NASCAR's top-tier Sprint Cup, although he needs a major financial backer to step forward for that to happen.
If you have questions for Jason Tchir about driving or car maintenance, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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