- F1’s game of inches
- GP2 not so second tier
- Acceleration zone troubles for Indycar
- Fellows keeps the pedal down
- Can Hinchcliffe bounce back?
After 66 laps and 307.104 kilometres of Formula One racing in Spain, the only thing that separated winner Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg at the finish line was the blink of an eye.
Well, 0.636 seconds to be precise, which works out to an average speed difference of 0.019 kilometres per hour over the Spanish Grand Prix distance. To put that in perspective, an ordinary snail – the Indianapolis 500 winning Turbo from the recent DreamWorks animated film notwithstanding – slimes around flowerbeds at the blazing speed of about 0.048 km/h.
And where did Rosberg lose those precious fractions of a second? He thinks it was the first few metres of the grand prix when he got off the line slowly from second on the grid and allowed pole sitter Hamilton to open a small gap early.
“The start unfortunately was poor,” Rosberg said after the race.
“It’s a bit of a weakness that we have at the moment, just inconsistent and now I’ve had a couple of bad starts in a row – actually three bad starts in the races. And that’s costly, you know? Because, always losing out at the start, that’s not good, need to work on that.”
The poor getaway, coupled with not being able to better his teammate in qualifying on Saturday, was enough to ensure Hamilton fought off Rosberg’s late challenge in Barcelona on Sunday to take a fourth consecutive victory of the season. It was also the Briton’s maiden win in the Spanish Grand Prix.
The result pushed Rosberg out of top spot in the driver’s championship standings from the first time in 2014, with the German now three points behind Hamilton. Drivers get 25 points for a win.
Now that Rosberg is behind his teammate in the title fight, don’t expect him to make any radical changes as he heads to Monaco for the next race in two weeks.
“There’s not much to change,” Rosberg said bluntly. “I would have done everything the same again [in Spain] – many small things add up and there are only very small gaps, so next time.”
Technically Speaking: The Spanish Grand Prix weekend marked the first time that the Formula One cars raced alongside the GP2 feeder series, and a couple of the GP2 cars wouldn’t look out of place in the bigger series.
he top three qualifiers for the GP2 races in Barcelona were quicker than four cars who made the Spanish Grand Prix field. The quickest of the four F1 backmarkers, Marussia’s Max Chilton, would have finished fourth in GP2 qualifying.
To make matters worse, the last three cars that qualified for Sunday’s F1 race weren’t quick enough to be in the top-11 on the GP2 grid. The time posted by Marussia’s Jules Bianchi would have put him 12th, while the Caterham’s Marcus Ericsson and Kamui Kobayashi would have lined up 14th and 15th respectively.
Formula One moved to 1.6-litre turbocharged V6 engines this season, while GP2 teams run Dallara chassis powered by a 4-litre, normally aspirated V8 engine.
Quote of the Week: “Huertas blocking, Huertas [expletive] blocking. He better get a penalty for that – that was moving in the braking zone – that was [expletive].”
– An irate James Hinchcliffe, of Oakville, Ont., after being squeezed by Dale Coyne Racing’s Carlos Huertas. The Colombian cut across the Andretti driver while trying to pass at Turn 7 on Lap 47. Huertas was not penalised for the incident.
Random Thoughts: When a race director of a series needs to defend his decisions in public, it’s likely a sign of a problem. That’s exactly what happened following the IndyCar event on the streets of Long Beach, Calif., last month following several calls from race control that left many shaking their heads.
After several crashes on restarts this year, it’s time for IndyCar’s top man in race control, Beaux Barfield, to explain the logic of having an “acceleration zone” for restarts. The zone is a designated area on the start-finish straight the leader must cross before he accelerates following a yellow caution period.
Unfortunately, a side effect of the zone has been accidents. There was one in Baltimore last year and another in the 2014 season opener in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Saturday’s Grand Prix of Indianapolis may also be added to the list after Graham Rahal was pushed into the wall after contact just before a restart, when the field bunched up waiting for the leader to get to the zone. Rahal was hit from behind by another car, and was not amused.
“I must say these starts are pretty stupid,” Rahal said after the accident.
“With the restart zone being so late, this is what happens. You can’t see back there because the rear wing is so big – we need to work with the officials to try and change this or there are going to be a lot of accidents. Right now, the way it is they are trying to be like NASCAR and this isn’t NASCAR – we can’t bump craft each other.”
By the Numbers: He may already be a member of the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame and a co-owner of Bowmanville, Ont.’s, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, but Ron Fellows is not slowing down .
After a 10-year hiatus, the 54-year-old will return to Trans-Am competition and make his 100th start in the series during the Victoria Day SpeedFest Weekend at his track. The veteran road racer will drive a Corvette for Derhaag Motorsports in Saturday’s race, returning to the team where he made his last start in Trans-Am in 2004.
Fellows stepped away from full-time racing a few years ago bit continues to dabble in NASCAR when the opportunity arises. He has raced in seven NASCAR Nationwide events since 2011 and made two Sprint Cup starts.
Fellows was part of the group that bought the famed Mosport International Raceway in 2011. One of the partners has since left, leaving Fellows and Carlo Fidani to oversee a multi-million dollar facelift of the aging facility. It was renamed Canadian Tire Motorsport Park early in 2012.
The Last Word: James Hinchcliffe didn’t turn any laps in Sunday’s first practice session for this month’s Indianapolis 500 after a piece of debris hit his helmet visor late in Saturday’s Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Hinchcliffe had to stop his car and was carried from the scene on a stretcher.
He was later diagnosed with a concussion.
The 28-year-old driver spent a few hours at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Sunday but is not cleared to drive. Instead, Venezuelan driver E.J. Viso stepped in to shake down Hinchcliffe’s No. 27 car and will continue to practice with the team this week.
Although it’s likely that Hinchcliffe will be sidelined for about a week, an Andretti Autosport release sounded a bit ominous, saying Viso would continue to drive the No. 27 “until a definitive decision in made in regard to the driver of the No. 27 car for the 98th Indianapolis 500.”
Before he’s cleared to drive, the Canadian must pass an ImPACT test administered by IndyCar medical director, Dr. Michael Olinger. The ImPACT test takes 25 minutes to complete and assesses the driver’s performance in a series of cognitive challenges against a baseline completed at an earlier date. The test measures attention span, memory, problem solving and reaction times.
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