The RACER Mailbag, November 3

The RACER Mailbag, November 3

Insights & Analysis

The RACER Mailbag, November 3

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Q: While the ban on questions about Milwaukee and Cleveland still stands, is Michigan going to be added to the schedule in the future? OK, a serious question! If Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City is added to the schedule, could it be a unique doubleheader; Saturday on the road course and Sunday on the oval? Is the oval still usable? Could that be a model for some rovals? 

Jon, Bemus Point, NY

MP: If it were to happen, it would be on the road course. And as much as I love the idea of returning to the Autodromo in response to Pato’s star power, I wouldn’t say it’s as much of a no-brainer as it seems. F1 races at the same track and has a much bigger star in Sergio Perez to promote as Mexico’s national talent. Pato paid out of his own pocket to stream the last few races at home, and by comparison, the popularity of Perez and F1 dwarf Pato and IndyCar in Mexico. IndyCar needs to do a much better job of getting its series seen in Pato’s country before a race in Mexico City would make sense.

Q: What happened to the chances of Andretti (and possibly Colton Herta) going to F1? Mario was interviewed on Tom Clarkson’s “Beyond the Grid” podcast and was quite coy about Andretti F1, but extolled the virtues of Colton as a once-in-a-generation talent.

Pete Kruszon (cruise on), Annapolis, MD

MP: Mario knows a thing or two about generational talent, and he’s spot-on with Colton. I bet a book could be written on all that went down and ultimately fell apart with Michael’s attempt to take control of an F1 team. Here’s one nugget I can share: Back when I first heard about it in late July/early August, I also heard a big dollar figure was attached to the Sauber takeover price. I threw that number at someone involved on the Andretti side and was told that it was far off — way too high.

In some of what I’ve read and heard since the negotiations ended, the suggested cost that led Andretti to walk away is nearly identical to that number I’d heard months ago. Makes me wonder if I heard the real cost, by chance, and that scary figure had yet to be put in front of Michael, or if it was just a coincidence that both numbers were so close. Regardless, it’s a shame as I know Michael really wants to be in F1, but since it means we get to hold onto Colton for a few more years — or forever — I can’t be mad.

The wait continues. Abbott/Motorsport Images

Q: Where do you see us in the grand scheme of things for the next IndyCar body type? I know that we are supposed to see a new car in 2023. Personally, I think it will be exciting to see a car with the enclosed cockpit being a part of the design, rather than an afterthought. It could be a shockingly good improvement. But I wondered if COVID is slowing that down? With the increased interest in IndyCar worldwide, a change could mean a huge surge in interest…

Gary Nelson, Flagstaff, AZ

MP: Other than creating a new tub with the aeroscreen as part of the original design, I don’t think the next car is going to look radically different than today’s car with the UAK18 bodywork. It will look different, but don’t expect anything wild.

The only way I see a new car creating a surge of new interest for IndyCar is if the series decides to go radical and come up with something that looks like it’s a jet fighter from a 500 years into the future. That’s the big decision for IndyCar to make. They can play it safe, have a pretty new car, but not one that anyone beyond those of us here care about, or they can go and consult with digital artists who create imaginary items for “Star Wars,” Marvel, and other big properties to see what they come up with that takes IndyCar into new territory.

Here’s one thing I do know: Warming over the same open-wheel concept we have in use today won’t have waves of new fans and sponsors rushing to be part of our universe.

Q: What are the chances of a season-ending IndyCar test for the champions of Super Formula, W Series, USAC Silver Crown champions?

Bob in So. Calif.

MP: There are none at the moment, but this is something I’ve been urging IndyCar to arrange at the end of the season. If we keep in mind that many series often run past the end of our calendar, a road course test at IMS would likely need to be packaged with the Chris Griffis Memorial test in late October/early November to avoid as many conflicts as possible.

Overall, the idea would be to give IndyCar teams an extra “evaluation” test day for talent that would be new to the series, and I’d love to see the two series you’ve mentioned, the W Series, Australian Supercars, Trans Am, and more on the list to choose from. Let’s see how some of those young F1 reserve drivers fare, and the best F2 drivers of the year. IMSA and the WEC are loaded with talent; let’s see how they get on, etc. And we’d make them all eat lunch from the Mug n’ Bun just to see how badly they really want to be in IndyCar. Anyone who can be fast with a half-gallon of old French fry oil in their stomach is worth hiring.

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