Welcome to the Robin Miller Mailbag presented by Honda Racing / HPD. You can follow the Santa Clarita, California-based company at: hpd.honda.com and on social media at @HondaRacing_HPD and https://www.facebook.com/HondaRacingHPD.
Your questions for Robin should continue to be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org We cannot guarantee we’ll publish all your questions and answers, but Robin will reply to you. And if you have a question about the technology side of racing, Robin will pass these on to Marshall Pruett and he will also answer here.
Q: I’d be curious for someone to ask Alexander Rossi to evaluate his personal suitability for Formula 1 today compared to before he started racing in IndyCar. I know he is happy in IndyCar and as a fan I’m thrilled to have him, but after his second half of 2017 and early performance in 2018, I feel like his racecraft has improved so much that he has to already be in the conversation as one of the best drivers in the series. I wonder how he would fare in F1 today?
Ryan in West Michigan
RM: Good question, but if he were driving a Ferrari, Mercedes or Red Bull he’d fare a lot better than the F1 junk he drove before coming to IndyCar. If an IndyCar with the new aero kit is more about driver than car, then F1 is 85 percent car and 15 percent driver.
Q: I just reviewed the recording of Sebastien Bourdais’ pass at Long Beach, and Dixon definitely moved over on him. Dixon’s right wheels are on the lane stripe as Bourdais comes alongside. Dixon moves over to overtake the car on his left, pushing Bourdais wide. Dixon’s left wheels end up on the lane stripe. Bourdais had nowhere to go. If there were calls like this in the CART days, they would have taken back Zanardi’s pass at the Corkscrew.
Russell Mill, Austin, Texas
RM: When I found Bourdais about an hour after the race he was still livid about that call, because he said he had to take evasive action to miss hitting Dixie. Marshall Pruett put together the whole sequence on RACER.com to go with the commentary I wrote and there’s a shot where it looks like Dixon is moving right and Bourdais reacts – and you’ve got to remember how fast they’re going at that part of the track. So, yes, making Seb give the spot back was B.S.
Q: Long Beach was a fantastic event, and kudos to Rossi for completely dominating the race. You see a guy kill it like that, and you wonder how he could ever lose a race. What is up with the closed pits? Can we just get that abolished? We were robbed of a closer race because of what almost seemed like an arbitrary rule. Why do they even close the pits for yellows? It’s not for safety, is it? Bourdais and Dixon got completely screwed. Bourdais was on a tear all afternoon, and to get shuffled to the back for some dumb reason… let ’em race for cryin’ out loud. Another great drive for much of the afternoon was that of RHR. He drove the wheels off of that car and even got to the front group for a while. Good stuff. The crowd was great, the attendance looked to be a full house, and the racing was, as usual, pretty damn good!
Bruce Davison, Santa Clarita, CA.
RM: IndyCar tried leaving the pits open a few years ago and teams bitched that it messed up their strategy, so they went back to closing the pits, which always sucks. To drive your butt off and lose a win or podium or good finish because you miss the pits by a couple of seconds when the caution comes on is ludicrous. I’d always leave the pits open like they did in the good old days.
Q: From the video it looked like Seabass had committed to the pits on that yellow and couldn’t have gotten back on track without wrecking at pit-in. He drove though the pits and should not have been penalized, unlike Dixon who actually took service. They both had a drive-through. I can understand the penalty for Dixon, but not Bourdais. Maybe tweak the rule a little for a case like this. Your thoughts?
RM: The Race Director can see what scenario is playing out, and Brian Barnhart always seemed to go out of his way not to hose the frontrunners in a similar situation. Seb said he wasn’t sure when he pulled in because it was so close, but Dixon’s team obviously made a mistake by completing their pit stop.
Q: I was for Rossi in Sunday’s race, however why do they have to close the pits so quickly after a wreck? (Why do they have to close them at all?) It killed Dixon and Bourdais’ races. Having said that, after the race Dixon was not happy that Mike Hull kept him out so long and got him trapped. Why don’t you think Hull brought him earlier?
RM: Dixon was not happy, and this is about the fifth or sixth time something like this has happened to him in the past few years, so you understand his anger. It’s fine to stay out as long as possible on the first stint and then try and jump your competition as they pit. But in Sunday’s case, the rule of thumb is pit as soon as you can make it to avoid getting caught out like Seb and Scott did. Rossi pitted four laps earlier and took no chances.