The RACER Mailbag, February 2

The RACER Mailbag, February 2

Insights & Analysis

The RACER Mailbag, February 2

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Q: With Tatiana Calderon signed to drive for A.J. Foyt Racing for the road courses, is she solidly done with trying to go for a Formula 1 ride? Also, with quite a few drivers in IndyCar who tried and failed going up the F1 ladder, are they open to going back to F1 should the right opportunity arise, or are they content with racing in America?

Brandon Karsten

MP: The only way a Calderon or O’Ward or Herta is headed to F1 is with their current teams, or with a bank vault full of cash. I recently read Tatiana’s sponsor lost a court case in the UK and has been ordered to pay almost $36 million to Williams for back sponsorship, so it makes me question as to whether they would pony up the money for her to race there. Herta was on deck with Michael Andretti’s F1 ownership bid but we know that fell through, and that leaves Pato as the only one with a semi-realistic shot of making it to F1 with McLaren. O’Ward would be racing in F1 tomorrow if Zak Brown gave him the opportunity. If Pato wins an IndyCar championship this year or next, I can’t imagine he’d stay to defend the title.

Q: I can’t believe that I have to write this again. I used to complain often to Robin, and he was sympathetic, but unable to do anything about this problem –American racing on Canadian TV.

Go back a few years before NBC made American racing just a national series, I was able to watch IndyCar practice, qualifying, and races on YouTube and cable TV. I could tape it on my PVR watch it live, that night, the next day, or next Wednesday. It was always there and complete. When IndyCar went to NBC, us Canadians had to shell out 25 bucks a month to see two IndyCar races a month – no practice, no qualifying, just the race. I know you say that, well, this year we will have some 12 of 17 races on NBC which I can see, and that is great, but still no practice, no qualifying. Just the race.

Go back to last year, I was able to watch every lap of every IMSA race by taping it on my PVR, I could watch it live, that night, the next day, or next Wednesday, it was always there and complete. I could binge watch two or three hours every day for a week if I wanted. Now, IMSA is on the NBC specialty channels too, channels that Canadians cannot get. TV coverage of the recent Daytona 24 Hours in Canada was just three hours. Three hours of a 24-hour race. I was able to catch more than that at, but as a shift worker, I was just lucky to be able to see six more hours. If I don’t stream it live I don’t see it, because it is not repeated anywhere. Yes, it may be on YouTube in a month or so, but am I going to watch 24 hours of a race when I already know the results.

In the meantime, I am able to watch practice, qualifying, and races for every Formula 1, Formula 2, Formula E event, and every second of every WEC race, including Le Mans. I can’t believe that the IMSA sponsors, teams, and drivers can be happy about showing their product less and less to us, while every non-NBC series shows me all of their product that I can take. America will never become a world player in motorsports with this backward protectionist thinking.

Paul Sturmey, Ontario, Canada

MP: You have my sympathies as well, Paul. I have a friend who lives in British Columbia who keeps me abreast of the yearly changes, issues, and roadblocks with watching the Rolex 24 At Daytona. He said this year’s race was the easiest to consume, by far, since the entire 24 hours were available on without any cost or geoblocks. As an aside, America has been a world player in motorsports for more than a century.

Q: The No. 19 Lambo is stopped on track at about 53 minutes to go in the Rolex 24 and the yellow comes out at about 51 minutes to go. Green comes out at about 29 minutes to go. Tell me why it took 22 minutes to retrieve that race car. Seems like a lot of green racing went missing when things were getting interesting at the end. Did they sweep the track — which is wrong in my opinion because marbles are part of the racing surface, and it’s the same for everyone — or was it the network getting in the last of the commercials?

Jeff, Florida

MP: My guess is IMSA, just like we’ve seen IndyCar do on many occasions, wanted to give its teams a chance to race to the checkered flag without going into major fuel-conservation mode, so they kept the pace car out there for long enough to ensure it was an all-out sprint to the checkered flag. Also, by my rough estimate, half of the cautions at the Rolex 24 were caused by the No. 19 Lambo, right? Yikes.

Pretty sure this just appeared on the entry list as “The No. 19 Lambo.” Jake Galstad/Motorsport Images

Q: What are the biggest reasons for not putting onboard starters into IndyCars? Is the additional weight really that much? Considering almost everyone sooner or later gets a stalled car — usually in a far corner of the track — having an onboard starter would reduce time and positions lost and yellow laps as a whole.

J Ollinger

MP: Weight and tight packaging concerns have been the main reasons given for keeping onboard starters off the cars. The new ERS system coming in 2023 is meant to solve that problem and perform as an onboard starter in addition to giving drivers 100hp or so through push-to-pass.

Q: Will we ever hear the words “it’s a new track record!” again during Indy qualifying? Will the advent of the new hybrid engine make that more or less possible to achieve? I love the new qualifying format, and I think attendance would make a big comeback if a new track record is attainable.

Joe Stieglitz, Shelbyville, IN

MP: I’ve got to imagine we will, but I don’t know what to expect once we go hybrid. There’s a lot of new mass that’s coming to control in the corners that makes me wonder if the cars will be able to go flat-out like we’re accustomed to these days. Makes me wonder if IndyCar will need to make more aero changes — more downforce — to keep the heavier cars glued to the track in search of new speed records. Most folks love to witness history, so if the overall hybrid package is ready to perform next year, a big crowd for qualifying weekend would be a delight to behold.