On tap this week:
- Hinchcliffe injury may hurt Toronto
- Montoya contains the awe
- Remembering Bianchi’s Monaco triumph
- Hamilton explains Monte Carlo blues
- Quote of the Week: Gordon on his hero
- How to get IndyCar noticed
With IndyCar racer James Hinchcliffe on the sidelines indefinitely following a violent crash last week, other drivers worry that next month's race in Toronto will take a huge hit.
Hinchcliffe's absence will make it harder to attract fans to a Honda Indy that was already challenged with a new June date because of the Pan-American Games. Usually held the second or third week of July, the Honda Indy is June 14.
That means it happens a week after the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal – the country's single-day largest sporting event – and it may be drowned out by Formula One excitement. Having Hinchcliffe hurt certainly won't help, said Penske driver and reigning IndyCar champion Will Power.
"It's definitely going to hurt Toronto, I am sure of that," he said. "He is absolutely a real character in the series and it sucks to see what happened to him. I hope he comes back quick."
The popular Hinchcliffe, of Oakville, Ont., has been the face of the Honda Indy at Exhibition Place since he joined the IndyCar Series five years ago.
The 28-year-old was injured in a practice crash last Monday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway when a suspension part pierced the cockpit and hit Hinchcliffe in the left thigh. He was rushed to hospital in critical condition.
As the cars raced at the famed Brickyard on Sunday, the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver remained in Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital following surgery. While some close to Hinchcliffe suggest it's possible he'll be back in an IndyCar before the end of the season, making the trip to Toronto to watch the race as a spectator is doubtful at best.
KV Racing driver Sebastien Bourdais, who battled tooth-and-nail with arch-rival Paul Tracy several times on the streets of Toronto during the Champ Car days, said that the "Thrill from West Hill" might want to consider a one-off appearance at exhibition Place to help boost interest.
"Paul has always been quick in Toronto, but does he want to come back?" he asked.
Random Thoughts: What's the key to winning a big race? Keeping things in perspective, said 2015 Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya, by blocking out the history of venues such as the Indianapolis Motors Speedway and the Monaco Grand Prix. The Penske racer, who has also tasted victory at the historic Monte Carlo Circuit in Formula One, recalled how much he loved watching videos of Ayrton Senna in particular and motorsport in general as a child, but gave it up once his racing career got serious. "You can't go," he said opening his eyes wide and letting his mouth fall open, "and then have a battle in the biggest place and against the biggest players and be thinking 'this is so cool,' because it means your head is not in the game. Get the job done and then get excited."
By the Numbers: A year ago today, Marussia driver Jules Bianchi scored two points for a ninth place finish in the Monaco Grand Prix, a result that few expected and many praised as sensational. The skill and determination needed to wrestle the poorly powered and terribly handling Marussia car around the tricky Monte Carlo Circuit established Bianchi as one of Formula One's rising stars. His points that day were also the only world championship markers the team managed in its 55 F1 starts over three seasons. Less than five months later, Bianchi was critically injured in a terrifying crash during the Japanese Grand Prix. He remains in a coma and may never recover.
Technically Speaking: After dominating most of Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix, Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton pitted for new tires during a late safety car period, while second- and third-place drivers Nico Rosberg, also of Mercedes, and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, did not. The move confused everyone, even Hamilton, who asked his team on the radio, "What's happening guys? I've lost this race, haven't I?" after he emerged from the pits in third. The two-time world champion explained afterward that he had mistakenly thought the pair of rivals behind had pitted for new supersoft rubber and he needed to respond: "The team said to stay out, I said, 'these tires are going to drop in temperature,' and what I was assuming was that these guys would be on options and I was on the harder tire. So, they said to pit. Without thinking, I came in with full confidence that the others had done the same."
Quote of the Week: "Oh, my gosh. What I love, there's nothing better than when you look at somebody through a TV or from reading about them, and you decide that they're going to be your hero. Then, when you meet them, they live up to those expectations and even exceed them. Rick is one of those kind of guys."
– Four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon talking about hanging out with his "all the time hero, Rick Mears," before acting as pace car driver for Sunday's Indianapolis 500.
The Last Word: As IndyCar struggles to attract fans, Graham Rahal thinks the series and team sponsors should do "whatever it takes to be in the media spotlight." The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver says IndyCar should take a page from the NASCAR playbook and find ways to get their drivers more exposure. "Even when they don't have a story to tell, they (NASCAR) find something to tell," he said. "We have a lot of good guys here, a lot of very funny personalities and engaging people who probably don't get a crack at the mainstream media as much as they should."
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