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 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 was very sorry to hear your road to recovery has hit a bit of a chicane. I’ve only been following IndyCar for about six years, but you’ve been instrumental in getting me up to speed on all the racing I missed out on growing up. Reading your Mailbag is the first thing I do on Wednesday morning, and I love your insights on NBC. Please take all the time you need to get your engine back up to full throttle for 2019!
Justin in Indy
RM: Marshall Pruett and Mark Glendenning kept the Mailbag up and running this past month while I was healing, and I want to publicly thank them for their efforts, and thank you readers for all the kind words and support.
Q: I have been a long-time reader of your Mailbag (and other writing). I was a CART fan during the split, and growing up in Jackson, Michigan (home of Pat Patrick), one of my earliest CART memories was watching Danny Ongais crash down the back straight at MIS in the 1980s. I won’t even make a lame joke about IndyCar going back to MIS, but seriously, I look forward to starting every Wednesday by reading your column before I get started with my day. Your passion for the sport is catching, and we depend on you to keep us informed during the (too) long downtime between seasons. I was really sorry to read that you were sick, but please get all the rest you need to fully recover and know that many, many readers and fans are pulling for you to make a speedy recovery! You will be back reporting on the Month of May before you know it!
RM: Compared to what John Andretti has been through and is currently facing, I feel guilty about even saying I’m sick. He’s a fighter like nobody I’ve ever seen, and my chemo hell is nothing compared to John’s – he’s amazing. He calls me to see how I’m doing when he’s fighting for his own life, and I’m so impressed with his attitude and courage. Thanks for being a loyal Mailbag reader, and sorry I got off the subject, but I just wanted to share my thoughts about Andretti.
Q: Last year I took my daughter and her fiancée to the St Pete race and had a great time. We sat on the front straight behind the pits. The question is, would you suggest another location to see the action and passing for the race this March? I do have one additional request – if possible I’d like to meet you and also introduce you to two new Indy fans (my daughter and fiancée). I understand with your current limitations this might not be possible. Be strong, my friend.
RM: I would try and sit outside Turn 1. That’s the action zone with lots of good overtaking, so try and sit as early into the corner as possible. Just grab me when you see me in the pits.
Q: Of the sports I follow, two racing series have seasons that are way too long. NASCAR is three months too long, and F1 is about four months too long. I’m glad IndyCar has it right in this discussion. The other two sports that are also too long are the NBA and MLB!
Douglas Ferguson, Debary, Florida
RM: Did Mark Miles pay you to write this? (smile). I have mixed feelings. I think five months off is too long and IndyCar just gets forgotten, so I’d like to see an earlier start and maybe one race in early October with 20 total races. But NASCAR is way too long, agreed.
Q: I recently listened to Marshall’s interview with Simona De Silvestro. It was great to get an update on her career since she was an interesting driver in IndyCar. However, I did not learn much about her ill-fated Formula 1 attempt. I remember seeing a press release at the time that was quite cryptic. So what really did happen? Did her management get her involved without a contract? They couldn’t agree on money? Sauber wasn’t seriously interested and led her astray?
Brad from Hollywood
RM: Over to Marshall Pruett: “What took place behind the scenes involved a power struggle for control of Simona, and the sponsors she might have brought to the Sauber F1 team. No surprise she wasn’t in the mood to spell it out for everyone. As I was told, Simona’s now-former manager Imran Safiulla and now-former Sauber team boss Monisha Kaltenborn got into an ugly spat over the terms of De Silvestro’s ongoing testing and preparations for making an official F1 test debut. It was something about the team allegedly wanting to own the rights to Simona’s services if she went forward with the team which, in turn, would kick Safiulla to the curb. As it was told to me, Sauber saw a money-making opportunity with Simona and some of the affiliated nuclear energy sponsors that were part of her HVM/KV IndyCar efforts, her existing management group did not want to cede control, and it devolved rather quickly from there.”