The RACER Mailbag, October 12

The RACER Mailbag, October 12

Insights & Analysis

The RACER Mailbag, October 12

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Q: There has been a lot of noise about how Super License points are awarded and in particular, how they are awarded to IndyCar drivers. With 40 points awarded to the IndyCar champion and points accrual over three seasons, there is a clear path to F1 from IndyCar. However, the points drop off quickly down the order. What role does the lack of standing starts in IndyCar have in the FIA’s perceived value of IndyCar drivers’ experience and abilities on the road to Formula 1?

IndyCar tried to implement standing starts on selected road courses at one time, but what ensued was mostly just a bunch of wrecked race cars. Standing starts ended with the public relations statement that there were issues with the “launch.” There certainly were, as the drivers couldn’t seem to keep from having large and expensive wrecks with each other and the owners quickly said no more as the costs of damage and insurance soared for the teams. So how does this inability to successfully have standing starts like the most or all of other F1 feeder series weigh when it comes to awarding Super License points?

Irving Frankfort, Merrillville, IN

CM: I’ll admit, I can’t tell you how heavily it weighs, but I do think it’s an aspect. The most heavily awarded championships are those that the FIA have specifically designed to prepare drivers for Formula 1, predominantly to ensure a driver knows the best way to chase a career in F1 given how expensive motorsport is. 

Your point also just highlights the fact that IndyCar is not FIA-run, and while that’s certainly not a bad thing, you can understand how they need to then distance Super License points slightly from the championships they have full control over, because they can’t guarantee consistency.

The big question would be, if the FIA did have items such as standing starts that it wanted championships to have, would IndyCar be better or worse for doing it? I think IndyCar needs to focus on being the best series it can be, and not adapt to try and help with Super License points if it’s not in its best interests.

Q: Has there ever been any discussions about F1 doing what IndyCar does for qualifying, which is to generally move the timing line back before pit in, thereby reducing the number of laps required for a qualifying run and providing opportunity for additional runs? Always felt what F1 does is old school in this area.  

Jeff Smith, State College, PA

CM: I think we had this question recently and I wasn’t aware of it ever being discussed, partly because there’s a feeling the current qualifying format works well. I remember all the changes from an hour long to 12 laps to single-lap shootouts and when it came up with Q1-Q2-Q3 it has worked pretty much everywhere, so if it ain’t broke…

That said, I also don’t think there’s anything that would prevent this being considered.

IndyCar killed off standing starts because the launch systems needed further development, but incidents like the pile-up at the start of the 2014 Indy GP helped speed the decision along. Geoffrey Miller/Motorsport Images

Q: Whatever they are paying Ocon, they should double it.

Doug in Coronado, CA

CM: Ha ha, well said Doug. I admire Fernando Alonso a lot and his comments in Singapore were partly pointed at Esteban, because Fernando is regularly much quicker at the start of a weekend just like Max Verstappen always seems to be fastest of the field right from the first lap of FP1.

But you don’t get points for that — in fact, you don’t get anything for that except pride — and with the way a weekend builds, I’m always impressed at how calmly someone like Esteban pieces it all together to be so quick by Q3 and in the race. He’s finding some excellent consistency and to be this closely matched with Fernando is very impressive.

From Robin Miller’s Mailbag, October 12, 2016

Q: Tony Adamowicz passed away earlier this week. Just wondered if you knew him or had any stories?

M. Strebbin, Los Angeles

ROBIN MILLER: I did have the pleasure of knowing Tony A to Z, and there was no finer person. He was a damn fine road racer who also competed in the inaugural Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining Sea Memorial Trophy Dash. But he was victimized in one of the worst flim-flams ever at the Indianapolis 500. As a rookie in 1970 and teammate to Johnny Rutherford, he raised his hand (as per protocol back then) to begin his qualifying run on Pole Day but saw the yellow light still on as he roared into Turn 1 so he backed off. Then USAC, which hadn’t seen him raise his hand, realized he had started his run so the green light came back on as he coasted through the short chute. He got back in the throttle and completed his first lap at 160.8 before reeling off the next three at 165.8, 166.4 and 166.3 to give him an average of 164.820mph. Afterwards, USAC claimed it was a “racing situation” and since nobody filed a protest, Adamowicz wasn’t given another shot to requalify. He got bumped on the third day of time trials and never came back.

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