Robin Miller's Mailbag for June 13, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Robin Miller's Mailbag for June 13, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Insights & Analysis

Robin Miller's Mailbag for June 13, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Marco Andretti (mage by Gritzmacher/IndyCar)

Q: I know you discussed this with others before, but I would like to ask if you think Marco Andretti might be better served if he were not on his father’s team? I have experienced first-hand the pressure (either self imposed or by others) working for my father, and an uncle as well. Though I learned from them and opportunities where extended because of the connection, it wasn’t until I left their shadow that I found my way. I think Marco has the talent and the skill set, but I sense there is a real champion hiding inside him. His real calling might not even be behind the wheel. Does he truly have the desire? What do you really think?

Ron Hampton

RM: A lot of us have said for years the best thing would have been for Marco to go drive for somebody else, but now it’s too late. He’s a conundrum because he obviously has speed and skill, but putting it together has escaped him. His performance at Detroit, when he won the pole with a scorching lap and then led the first 22 laps, reminded us he’s more than capable, and it would be great for IndyCar if he started winning. He’s not as hungry as a Josef Newgarden or a Tony Kanaan were, but I do think he’s got pride and desire. It’s just very puzzling, because he can be lighting quick in practice and then qualify 16th.

Q: Perhaps I’m delusional, but if McLaren enters IndyCar full time, how long do you think it will take for other midfield and lower teams in F1 to follow? A season in IndyCar probably costs a fraction of what a midfield team spends for a season of F1. The austerity IndyCar has had to deal with has resulted in cost control that allows very modest start-up costs for new entrants. To be in F1 means to be in the business of designing, developing, and building cars. It has become more of a constructors’/manufacturers’ championship than a drivers’ championship. You can’t just buy cars, equipment, hire staff and go racing. While the richer teams in IndyCar can spend more on things like damper development and minor tweaks, the smaller teams still have a fighting chance. Get Alonso, get Kimi Raikkonen (who is still very popular, but probably out of Ferrari after this year), start adding some international races and TV exposure, and I think the management at Liberty Media, to put it politely, will need to start wearing adult diapers. By the way, you look very healthy on TV, which is a good thing since we fans can’t live without you.

Bary Berger

RM: I can’t see any other F1 teams looking to IndyCar. It would still cost them several million to come here, and then they race for peanuts? Their TV money keeps a lot of them afloat, and I don’t think the Leader’s Circle is going to entice Force India to come run Iowa. I feel good, thanks for your sentiment.

Q: McLaren seems to be inching closer to full time IndyCar participation in 2019. My concern is that McLaren is well underperforming in its bread and butter, F1. If this is a Zak Brown push to IndyCar, how stable is Brown’s position at McLaren? I would think McLaren would want to focus on and improve its performance in F1 before even throwing a little attention to IndyCar. It would be the same as an MLB team focusing on the success of its AAA affiliate over the major league team. I am not downplaying IndyCar, and would be ecstatic to see this high profile team in the series. I only wonder if Mr. Brown will be around to see this through.

Mike, Avon, IND

RM: I think it’s all Zak Brown and I have no idea about his job security, but my question is where will the money come from? Honda of Japan? Not necessarily; I don’t think McLaren ended on real good terms with those boys. Honda Performance Development in LA? Maybe a little help with free engines, but… I think Zak was shopping for sponsors on his recent visit to Detroit, and I’m sure if Alonso is part of the package then selling an IndyCar program is a whole lot more appealing.

Q: It now seems more likely that McLaren is coming to IndyCar in 2019. I think there is just no way Chevy can let Honda be its engine supplier. So far this season it’s been Penske against everyone else, and although Penske probably doesn’t mind, I would think GM would like more quality teams using its engines. Do you think it will aggressively try to land McLaren, or just let it run its course?

David M, El Paso, TX

RM: Like I said in the question above yours, not sure Honda of Japan is a big McLaren fan, but if Zak is tied to Andretti Autosport then HPD is part of the program. And I don’t think The Captain would mind at all if his team were the only ones with Chevrolet. But I’m sure Zak has talked with GM as well.

Q: Loved your reference to Bill Vukovich Jr during Texas race!

Brad from Hollywood

RM: I told Graham Rahal before the race his new nickname was “Vuky,” because he reminded me of The Mad Russian’s son. Vuky Jr. never qualified very good on ovals (except dirt) but was a damn good racer when the green flag fell – just like Rahal has been the past three years.

Q: What is going on with Carlin Racing? Charlie and Max are both bottom of the field. Is this just a new-team-based issue, or a driver based issue on results? Has IndyCar ever a had team championship as well as the driver’s championship? Would this not motivate the teams more? I understand teams would either need to run the same amount of cars, or for teams with more cars, like Andretti, they would have to pick certain cars for team points. What is the word on McLaren?  Will this be a one or two car team? Will they run on their own cars, or cars under the Andretti banner? Would they be a third engine supplier come 2021? Is the talk of Cosworth, as an engine supplier, valid?

Brent L., Denver, CO

RM: It’s a new team coming into a very competitive environment, so I imagine things are about like Trevor Carlin expected. CART had a country championship for a few years, but nobody cared. McLaren doesn’t build engines. And Cosworth would badge someone’s engine, but it won’t enter as a manufacturer.

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