The RACER Mailbag, January 12

The RACER Mailbag, January 12

Insights & Analysis

The RACER Mailbag, January 12

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Q: Is Logan Sargeant the American we need in F1? Sometimes it is about right place, right time. I’d argue this year’s F2 champ Oscar Piastri is wrong place, wrong time. My understanding is Piastri can’t return to F2 and nobody offered him a ride in F1. Your recent article  pegged 2023 as a potential season for Sargeant to land a seat in F1. I don’t know a lot about him. Is he extremely talented? I’d argue the U.S. would benefit from a U.S. driver on the grid, but not if that driver is going to be battling with Mazespin every race. So Mr. Medland, what say you about Sargeant? Is this the foot in the door for an American driver we’ve been waiting years for since Rossi last drove for that really bad team nobody remembers any more?

Ryan in West Michigan

CHRIS MEDLAND: I’d say let’s not get too carried away yet. Logan impressed me a lot battling Oscar for the F3 title in 2020 but that was his second season at that level, and while last year was actually excellent from him in an uncompetitive team, we haven’t seen what he can do in F2 machinery yet. Carlin is a good team that should mean some podiums and maybe the odd win, and if he can get himself into a title fight then that would give the U.S. something to get excited about. For now he’s just the closest on the F3/F2/F1 ladder, and has a clear path as part of the Williams academy and with every chance Albon will move back to a Red Bull-backed team if he impresses again. Logan’s good but not leaping out as a definite future F1 driver yet, so to reach F1 in 2023 would need a big season this year. But two years of progression in F2 and race wins would also still put him in the frame, and you’re spot on that the U.S. would benefit from a driver on the grid in a decent car (Williams is owned by U.S.-based Dorilton Capital too don’t forget), so Logan’s timing could prove to be good.

Q: What year do you think that we will see a female driver in the NASCAR Cup Series again,  and who do you think she will be?

Chris Fiegler, Latham NY

KELLY CRANDALL: I can’t put a year on it, but it’ll be sooner rather than later. At least, if everything continues going well with Hailie Deegan. Deegan is primed to be the next female at the Cup Series level, and if NASCAR could put her in a car tomorrow, I’m sure it would. Deegan is young, marketable, outgoing, and has a huge social media presence. Right now, she’s the only female in NASCAR’s national series with some backing and on an upward trajectory.

There’s a Cup ride looming somewhere on the horizon for Deegan. Matthew Thacker/Motorsport Images

Q: With all of that talk about that Let’s Go Brandon cryptocurrency sponsor in the Xfinity Series, I have a question: what was the most controversial sponsor in NASCAR history?

Kurt Perleberg

KC: It’s a great question, and I think LGBcoin is going to be that sponsor for now. Considering what it stands for and the back-and-forth between the team and NASCAR on the approval process, it certainly garnered its share of headlines and then opinions on both sides of the fence. When you say “controversy,” I think of numerous headlines and a lot of conversations around the sponsor, so ones that easily come to mind from recent years would be one like DC Solar. Granted, headlines there came after the fact when it turned out to be a Ponzi scheme, but it was a pretty big deal considering how much it hurt Chip Ganassi Racing. Barstool is another one when it partnered with NASCAR because many were upset given all the negativity around that brand’s culture. NASCAR disallowing sponsors isn’t a new thing, but what brings the attention is how divisive that sponsor is, as in the case of LGBcoin.

Q: It’s been a few weeks since the season-ending F1 race at Abu Dhabi and I’m betting a lot of folks wish everyone would just stop talking about it. The end of the race was clumsy (at best), but I’ve seen a lot of YouTube footage of late that has me thinking.

For years now, Mercedes has had the best cars, the best drivers, and just as important, their strategy calls have been near-perfect. Undercuts, overcuts, tire selection – all spot-on.

In videos from both Bottas and Hamilton’s cockpits, the race engineer(s) can be heard saying “we did not box, because we would have lost track position.”

I’ve watched enough stock car races to know that NASCAR engineers face this dilemma pretty often. Late race wreck, do I pit my driver for four fresh ones, or do I leave him out and maintain track position? Engineers never know if another yellow is about to occur. If one does, the drivers that stayed out are sitting ducks, because those with fresh rubber are rocketships. Flip of a coin stuff.

Is it possible that in addition to botched race management that Mercedes just got their strategy call wrong? I would be interested in Kelly’s take regarding Abu Dhabi.

Jonathan and Cleide Morris, Ventura, CA

KC: You are spot on – it’s always a flip of a coin. The leader is a sitting duck late in the race because the field does the opposite nine out of 10 times. I won’t pretend to know everything about F1, but I will say that I was blown away that Mercedes only pitted Hamilton once during the finale. Yes, track position was clearly on their mind, but they were also clearly faster than the Red Bull of Verstappen. So, yes, I think that was a day their strategy just went wrong when, from my couch, they could have pitted more than once.

From Robin Miller’s Mailbag, January 14, 2015

Q: After 25 years of amateur racing, I determined that motor racing is a stupid, time-consuming expensive hobby. So I bought an airplane. The plane is no less expensive than racing, but at least I don’t crack it up every other weekend. A good number of pro racers are also pilots. Do you have any “flying racer” stories you can share?

GW in ON

ROBIN MILLER: Flew with Jim Hurtubise a couple times in his SeaBee and we used the Interstate signs because his radio and navigation system didn’t work. Not that it would have mattered since he wouldn’t have used them. He took some people fishing once and when they tried to leave, the plane couldn’t climb out of the lake so Herk unloaded all the people and equipment. He tried again, no luck. Then somebody saw the pontoons had filled up with water so that made the plane way too heavy to take off. Legend goes that he landed on the backstretch at Trenton once and he and Parnelli lived to tell about landing in a tiny pond by Eldora.