Q: Michael Andretti pulled quite a coup when he signed Alexander Rossi while he was still a reserve driver for Manor. Alex has become much more confident, and a leader at Andretti Autosport. I know that such swaggering self-confidence can irritate some people, but this young driver is fun to watch.
Also, the Long Beach race proved to me once again why Bourdais has been one of my favorite drivers over the last 14 years. After watching the race and reading his post-race comments, it seems to me that the fire that used to burn so brightly in him has been rekindled. I admire his tenacity and the emotion he shows. Some may say that calling fellow drivers “idiots” is not a good move, but I admire how he has been uncompromisingly forthright in interviews. Lastly, I wanted to commend you on the job you did in putting together the Dan Gurney tribute before the race. It was done tastefully, respectfully, and wasn’t over the top as some tributes can be. Well done, Robin
James Jackson, Livonia, MI
RM: Yes, I think it was Bryan Herta and Michael that snagged Rossi, and I know the first time they tested him that Andretti was very impressed. But it’s a great example of how much you don’t know about drivers in F1 that are strapped with cars that are hopelessly behind by six seconds. How would Rossi have done in a Mercedes or Ferrari instead of a Manor? Bourdais’ passion is impressive and I like him because he always says what’s on his mind. He’s a racer. Thanks for your kind words abut Dan, no tribute could really do him justice but NBCSN’s Taylor Rollins did a great job of capturing his impact in two minutes.
Q: I was at Barber for Saturday/Sunday and couldn’t extend for another day. We noticed that the LED panels didn’t appear to be on Saturday, but thought it might just bhave been too bright. Sunday it was clear they weren’t on, and from watching on TV, they are not on. I really thought that added a lot to the viewing the past couple years, and they made a big deal about how they were improved for this year. Is there a reason they were not using them at Barber?
RM: Yes they had issues on Friday and Saturday, so IndyCar opted to shut them down Sunday until the problem could be fixed.
Q: I’m watching the Barber race and have a couple of issues with the coverage. First, after five whole laps we have to sit through a lengthy commercial? The cars and drivers suits are literally billboards, advertising permeates the track and other sponsors are mentioned throughout the broadcast. If ESPN can run F1 commercial-free, if soccer can be shown commercial-free, then why can’t commercials be at least reserved for yellow and red flag situations? The second issue is the cameras. If NBC can’t spring for the cost of a canopy to shield the cameras from rain, I think the least they can do is give the cameraman a cloth to wipe the lens periodically. It’s ridiculous trying to see what is happening on-track looking through a water-covered lens! That said, NBC is light years ahead of ABC in race coverage, they just need to continue to look for areas to improve. They should never settle for “good enough.”
Bob, Hendersonville, NC
RM: Commercials are a necessary evil in broadcasting, unless F1 gives you the rights for free like it did ESPN and handles all the production. It was raining sideways Sunday, so I’m sure they tried to keep the lens dry but it was a challenge.
Q: During the telecast, Paul Tracy said, “I think Sebastien Bourdais is one of the three best road course drivers in the world.” Considering P.T. and SeaBass fought like cats and dogs against each other on the track, that’s high praise indeed. And shortly after that, SeaBass makes The Pass That Wasn’t a Pass of The Century. Kudos to P.T. for complimenting his former adversary!
RM: It is refreshing to see the last real rivals of IndyCar racing become friends. I think they always respected each other, but their on-track clashes and off-track press conferences were what made people watch. And I think P.T. is spot on – Bourdais is one of the best road racers of the past 25 years.
Q: With Ferrari being quite open with their dismay with the new F1 rules, is there anything to read into Scuderia Corsa talking about making the leap full-time to IndyCar, and possibly Ferrari being the third engine manufacturer?
Michael D. DeVine, Dublin, Ohio
RM: I think Stefan Johansson gets credit for getting Scuderia Corsa interested, and I was talking to Oriol Servia about it over the weekend and he’s fired up to drive for them at Indianapolis. But I don’t believe there’s any formal connection to Ferrari.
Q: I’m excited about what IndyCar is producing. You have two kings of American open-wheel racing in four-time champions Dixon and Bourdais racing for wins. The only names ahead of either of them on the all time wins list are Foyt, Andretti and Unser. You have two young Americans on powerhouse teams that are starting to look like the next kings of American open-wheel racing in defending champ Newgarden/Penske and Rossi/Andretti. Then sprinkle in past champions Power, Pagenaud, Hunter-Reay and Kanaan.
We are left with a great crop of drivers with championship backgrounds in F1, ALMS, Le Mans and IndyCar to showcase the new car that leaves me wanting more every time I watch. I know there are aspects of the series that still need to advance to reach the heights of where IndyCar has been. But I am very excited about the current drivers and the cars they are racing. Strictly from a talent and machine perspective, how would you compare IndyCar 2018’s potential historically?
RM: I think because of the spec cars and depth of teams/drivers, IndyCar has become as competitive as anytime in recent memory. Two-tenths of a second is the difference between sixth and 16th on the grid many weekends. And the mix of veterans and rookies is pretty damn impressive. If you have a good driver, engineer and pit stops, you can win races, and I like the fact we can’t pick the winner before the races.