First FE title won as IndyCar race provokes anger

Weekend Racing Wrap

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The first Formula E championship was won by a single point in the final race, while a penalty for the first driver across the line meant the season ended with a home win.

However several IndyCar drivers were angered by Saturday’s race at Fontana at which it became clear that increased downforce levels had led to the return of ‘pack racing’ – a phenomenon which was widely blamed for the 2011 crash at Las Vegas which claimed the life of Dan Wheldon.

Graham Rahal won the race which ended with Ryan Briscoe flying through the air in a major crash. Meanwhile in European Formula Three, where driving standards have been a major cause for concern recently, Michele Beretta was the latest driver to be sent skywards.

Formula E

Rounds 10 & 11: London, Great Britain

The first of two races around Battersea Park in London began behind the Safety Car due to concerns over a bump in turn one. An extra barrier was added at the corner and yellow flags were stationed there throughout the race.

Sebastien Buemi eased to victory from pole while. Title rivals Lucas di Grassi and Nelson Piquet Jnr tangled early on without damage, but both finished the race which was interrupted by another Safety Car appearance when Daniel Abt crashed at the final corner.

That set up Sunday’s title-deciding race perfectly, with Buemi now within five points of Piquet. And when rain interrupted qualifying, leaving the championship leader 16th on the grid. Di Grassi, now an outside in the title fight, started 11th, five places behind Buemi.

However an error by Buemi following his mandatory car change ended up costing him the title. A quick spin let Bruno Senna through, and Buemi ended the race desperately trying to retake the position. Meanwhile Piquet’s latest team mate Oliver Turvey had waved him by, and by passing Salvador Duran around the outside Piquet now held the eighth place he needed to grab the title by a point.

At the sharp end of the field Sam Bird lunged past Loic Duval for second place, and then harried race leader Stephane Sarrizan until they crossed the finishing line. Sarrazin’s battery meter dropped to 0% on the final tour, yet his car plainly still had some juice left in it, but after taking the flag he was given a 49-second penalty for hitting zero.

The result meant delight for Piquet. Having left F1 under a cloud when his involvement in ‘Crashgate’ was revealed, he clinched his first title since taking the British Formula Three crown eleven year ago. Reigning World Endurance Champion Buemi hasn’t had to wait that long, but he will be ruing the error his EDAMS team made in Moscow by holding him for ten seconds longer than the minimum pit stop time.


Round 11: Fontana

Graham Rahal ended his seven-year IndyCar victory drought, but that wasn’t the main talking point from Saturday’s race at Fontana.

The return of ‘pack racing’ led many drivers to speak out after the race. The field was compressed within five seconds while running at well over 200mph for much of the race.

Despite that ran caution-free for the first half. But with the field so close, and the fights for position growing more intense with ever lap, accidents were a near inevitability. In the final laps Ryan Hunter-Reay and Ryan Briscoe collided, sending the latter cartwheeling along the grass after his nose dug in to the turf.

Tony Kanaan, who finished second, said he felt lucky just to be alive after the race. Rahal’s win was further tinged with controversy as he left the pits with his fuel hose still attached at one point, yet avoided a penalty. Juan Pablo Montoya also voiced concerns about the racing, but left California with a 46-point lead after finishing fourth behind Marco Andretti.

Next race: Milwaukee (12th July)

European Formula Three

Round 6: Norisring, Germany

Rookie and points leader Charles Leclerc impressed in a rain-soaked first race at the Norisring, leading his considerably more experienced ricals Antonio Giovinazzi and Felix Rozenqvist home. The race began and ended behind the safety car due to the weather.

However following the incidents at Monza and Spa the debate over driving standards refuses to go away. In race two Michele Beretta was inverted by Matt Solomon at the hairpin, bringing out the Safety Car for one of its four appearances in 36 laps. However Maximilian Gunther took a fine maiden victory in the category, passing three of his rivals to reach the line first ahead of pole sitter Alexander Albon and Leclerc.

Antonio Giovinazzi won the third race of the weekend after taking the lead at the start, but had to deal with three restarts as collisions once again dominated proceedings, one of which involved Gunther. George Russell kept his nose clean to finish second and Albon – who started on pole once again but got a poor start – completed the podium. Giovinazzi is now 42.5 points behind Leclerc as the series passes the halfway mark.

Next races: Zandvoort (11th-12th July)


Round 3: Norisring, Germany

The first DTM race of the weekend saw the drivers tasked with a tough decision: wet or slick tyres for a drying track? Mercedes development driver Pascal Wehrlein judged it perfectly and fitted slicks to claim the second win of his career. Despite a nervy opening ten laps where it looked like wets were the right call – the seven drivers who opted for them had pulled out over four seconds a lap – Wehrlein managed to stay just close enough to capitalise when they finally came in for slicks. He fought off competition from fellow Mercedes drivers to claim the win.

In race two Robert Wickens repeated his 2014 win at the track with a comfortable margin over second place. He overtook Bruno Spengler on lap 14 and was followed through by fellow Mercedes man Christian Vietoris, with the order remaining the same until the flag. Ex-F1 driver Timo Glock retired early on after losing the bonnet of his car while race one winner Wehrlein finished fifth.

Next races: Zandvoort (11th-12th July)


Round 7: Paul Ricard, France

At the home event for Citroen squad and drivers Yvan Muller and Sebastian Loeb, it was the latter who put his team mates in the shade in qualifying. Muller completed an-all French front row, relegating Jose Maria Lopez to third. The race ran to a predictable pattern: Loeb took his third win of the season with his team mates finishing in formation behind.

Race two saw a bit more action as Lopez claimed victory from eighth on the grid, although it wasn’t with controversy as he clashed with Tiago Monteiro while passing the Honda driver for second. His pass on race leader Michelisz was more straightforward and Lopez won for the first time in three rounds to re-assert his place at the top of the points table.

Next races: Portugal (12th July)


Round 5: Croft

It was no surprise to see BMW trio Sam Tordoff, Andy Priaulx and Rob Collard take the victory spoils at Croft, a circuit which suits rear-wheel-drive cars. Priaulx’s race one victory the first since his comeback, though he was made to work hard for it having started second behind Tordoff. A lunge down the inside at Tower – which Tordoff never looked like defending – did the job, and netted a confidence-boosting win.

Fastest lap in race one meant Tordoff started race two from pole, but this time he refused to let victory slip through his fingers. He came under fierce attack from Jason Plato, who started second and was running with no success ballast.

Plato had played the rule book to perfection: having qualified 12th for race one he elected not to scrap in the midfield for a small points reward, and instead started from the pit lane and treated the race like a qualifying session. The result was a lap time quick enough for second place, where he finished, three seconds behind Tordoff, but these were surely not the sort of tactics the rule-writers had in mind. But Collard fought back, and Priaulx made it a BMW one-two.

Lewis Hamilton’s younger brother Nicolas made his debut this weekend and finished all three races, albeit always near the tail of the 30-car field. Heading into the summer break Shedden leads the championship, ten points ahead of Plato with Matt Neal 12 further back.

*The video highlights are from qualifying as race highlights are not yet available.

Next races: Snetterton (9th August)


Round 16: Sonoma Raceway


Truex/Ragan crash

Of the 36 races on the NASCAR schedule, just two take place on road courses. The first, at Sonoma, saw the Busch brothers Kyle and Kurt take their first one-two.

Jimmie Johnson held a commanding lead at one stage but electing not to change tyres under a later yellow flag cost him his victory chance. Johnson fell to sixth, but four wins earlier this year means he is already guaranteed a place in the championship shoot-out.

The race was red-flagged at one stage after a collision between Martin Truex Jnr and David Ragan damaged a concrete wall.

Next race: Daytona International Speedway (5th July)

Also last weekend

Auto GP’s third round at Paul Ricard was cancelled due to a lack of entries.

Over to you

Did you see any of these races over the weekend, and what were your thoughts? Or was they anything you saw that we haven’t covered, let us know below.

Next weekend the main event is the Formula One British Grand Prix, supported by GP2 and GP3. However we also have the World Rally Championship from Poland – home event for ex-F1 turned rally driver Robert Kubica – World Rallycross from Sweden, Euroformula Open from the Red Bull Ring and NASCAR from Daytona.

Weekend Racing Wrap

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57 comments on “First FE title won as IndyCar race provokes anger”

  1. I can’t get to like Indycar, there could be 5 cars fighting for lead at the last lap, and I am still bored. It has to do with the tracks I guess…

    About eDMAS in FE, isn’t it the second race in a row the team makes the same mistake? Something’s fishy here…

    1. I don’t think the eDAMS made any mistakes in London. When Keith mentioned them holding Buemi for 10 seconds longer than the minimum pit stop time, he was referring to Moscow.

      1. @polo Surely “he will be ruing the error his EDAMS team made in Moscow” doesn’t leave that much room for misinterpretation?

        1. @keithcollantine That’s what I thought! I assume @afonic just misread the article.

    2. What was this mistake from eDAMS?

      1. Ah, I see it has been mentioned. I assumed it was a case of Iosif mis-reading.

    3. Yeah I misread this sentence: “However an error by Buemi following his mandatory car change ended up costing him the title.”

      Sorry abou that.

    4. At least in Indycar Honda has the lucky star.

  2. I love Formula E. The ELECTRIC formula has really given me SHOCKS over the season.


  3. I never like oval races but man, NASCAR on normal circuits does looks very cool.

    1. I love the Sonoma road course and it is great fun watching Nascar there. Watching the big heavy cars come off the berms on 2 wheels is quite entertaining. The race action was pretty decent throughout the race. Overall, much more fun than any of the ovals! Can’t wait for Watkins Glen.

    2. I live about 2 & 1/2 hours from Watkins Glen, and every year we go to watch the NASCAR race there. It’s an absolute blast. The racing is absolutely great. Ok, sure, NASCAR cars are much slower on road courses than most other racing series, but the actual racing is as entertaining as it gets.

      1. Nascar at Sonoma and Watkins Glen are by far my two favorite races of the year for the series. I would love to go to Watkins Glen in person to see any racing. Alas, I’m on the other side of the country. Maybe someday.

  4. Hitting a pole in your unsafe fence killed Dan Weldon, not “pack racing”.

    1. @lucien_todutz The pole did the damage but pack racing caused the accident.

      When you have 20+ cars separated by less than 2 seconds at 200mph+ if somebody running towards the front makes a mistake then there’s no time or space for cars behind to react to avoid it. Additionally when you have a big pack all running 2-3 wide the chances of wheel to wheel contact & cars getting launched into the air become much higher (Indycars getting launched on ovals was a rarity until pack racing became a thing).

      Had there been no pack racing at Vegas in 2011 & the field been more spread out that crash woudl almost certainly have been a 2-3 car accident at most because the dozen cars behind would have had plenty of time to avoid it.

      The pack racing at Fontana over the weekend wasn’t as bad as Vegas 2011 (Which was just plain idiocy) & wasn’t as bad as some of the IRL pack racing from the past….. But it was still pack racing & it was still something that shouldn’t be a thing.

      Its like the Nascar plate racing at Daytona/Talladega with there pack racing, Your sitting there waiting for the inevitable ‘Big One’ while hoping that it doesn’t happen yet it virtually always does because there’s no way to avoid it.
      The big wrecks towards the end of that race (Sato/Power & especially Hunter-Reay/Briscoe) were inevitable & I recall reading comments in the live chat here throughout the race with people calling it well before it happened.

      1. Mansell's_Stache
        29th June 2015, 18:01

        So, the Indy 500 isn’t pack racing? I don’t hear anyone complaining about that?

        1. indy 500 isn’t flat out all the way like fontana and they don’t go 220 miles in the corner

        2. So, the Indy 500 isn’t pack racing?

          No, It wasn’t.
          Pack racing is when there all bunched together in packs running 2+ wide as they were at Fontana, Indy never featured that sort of racing.
          At Indy they were spread out & apart from the starts/restarts they were never running in a big pack 2+ cars wide like they were at Fontana.



          And for anyone that didn’t see it, Here is the absurd pack racing from Las Vegas 2011-

        3. As GT-racer explains in depth (thanks for that) not all ovals bring “pack racing”.

      2. @gt-racer– Well said.

    2. Especially on the head.

  5. FlyingLobster27
    29th June 2015, 11:50

    I watched Saturday’s F3 & DTM, and caught the end of the USCC 6-hour race at Watkins Glen.
    It’s ironic that there were less silly incidents in the morning’s wet F3 race than the dry afternoon one. Alexander Albon’s overambitious pass in race 2 was crazy, but it worked out only because the others were paying attention, especially Max Günther. IMO that’s why these guys are at the front and people like, say, Pietro Fittipaldi, aren’t.

  6. If I had to choose between the excitement of IndyCar and quietness of FE I would always go for Formula 1. No matter what the others say.

  7. I like these Weekend Racing Wraps.

    1. Agreed, I like to keep up to date with other series and this is a really good feature. Certainly saves having to keep up to date with 10 different calendars.

  8. I’ve never cringed when watching a race quite so much as when I watched IndyCar at Fontana. It was scary. Quite how they didn’t manage to have more accidents is beyond me.

  9. Having just watched the highlights of the Indy car race, it seems to me that the aero isn’t to blame. Yes they were driving in a pack, however this was only for a few laps and then it looked like they were spreading out. However…. an accident would then be caused by poor driving, which would bring out a caution and bunch them up again!! This seemed to happen at least three times in the race, so no wonder they were always racing close together! I think that with the nature of oval circuits being pretty much flat out, and the cars having spec aero, you will always get close “pack” racing to an extent. It’s how the drivers react to driving in these situations which makes the difference.

    1. pastaman (@)
      30th June 2015, 12:58

      I’m sorry but you are wrong. You cannot get a sense of the racing from just looking at the highlights. They did not spread out as the race went on. The first yellow did not come out for 130 laps and the entire field was still basically within 2 seconds of each other. Cars were going 4 and sometimes 5 wide through the turns at over 200 mph. You should watch the full race to really get a sense of how scary it is for the drivers to race this way. It is entertaining for the fans, but terrifying for the drivers.

      Every oval track is different and most do not lend themselves to pack racing. It depends on the shape of the “oval”, how wide it is, the surface, etc…

  10. It is racing if loads of cars are together thats it what can you change? Do they follow road driving rule of thumb and leave a 2 second gap or 4 seconds in the wet. Perhaps they can put those chevrons painted on motorways so they can gauge a safe gap or best of all a sign on the rear wing saying if you can read this you are driving too close.

    Funny Indycars complain they can drive too close Formula 1 complain the opposite.

    1. the solution is fairly simple, give them more power & take away some downforce.

      champcar never had pack racing, even after it had become a spec series from 2003 it never had pack racing at places like las vegas or eurospeedway because the cars had a lot more power & a lot less downforce at these ovals compared to what we have today.

      even if you look at previous races from 2012-2014 with the current dw12 car they ran less downforce on these ovals & there was no pack racing & the racing was still good.

      last year for instance-

      1. Hope they can implement something sooner rather than later along the lines of what you’ve suggested. IndyCar has proven they can can change things pretty rapidly in season when they want to. For example, for yesterday’s race they had closed off the rear wheel boxes more so less chance the car will fly if turned around at speed.That seemed to help with some of the incidents, but not all.

        Even if they cannot increase power in season they could still take off some downforce to help the situation like they did at the Indy 500. Some of the teams grumbled a bit, but it was a safer race and still had plenty of action.

        1. @bullmello, for the Indy 500, I thought that the organisers actually went the other way and increased the amount of downforce that the cars were producing, since the problems were thought to be due to the rear wing of the Chevrolet aero package stalling and causing unpredictable and sudden shifts in handling in yaw conditions.

          1. I think you’re probably correct there because the overall effect was to reduce speed. I know they took off some of the new aero bits and went more back to what had been run previously. The cars were somewhat slower, safer and it was still good racing.

  11. If I was Buemi I’d be seriously cheesed off with Duran about how easily he moved over to let Piquet get the place he needed. Even Jolyon Palmer, in his post-race comments, said Duran had given it to him. And why didn’t Duval get penalised the same way Sarrazin did? I thought Duval ended on 0% as well. Still, it was Buemi’s mistake that lost him his place to Senna, so he’s only got himself to blame.

    1. When Duval crosses the line he had still 1% left. and what was Duran supposed to do he made a mistake Piquet took advantage of it he had 2 options crash in to piquet or Yield, He yielded

  12. I became a fan of IndyCar the same year I started watching F1, (1988), and that race was one of the most intense I ever saw in my life. The pack racing is thrilling, but for a few seconds, I thought Briscoe was dead. Vegas 2011 was hard to watch, but 30+ cars on a NASCAR-style mile and a half, versus 23 cars on a IndyCar-style 2 miler are different stories. I remember the Hanford Device years, and they produced the best of both worlds on one hand, while robbing IndyCar of their version of Gilles Villeneuve, (Greg Moore) in 1999.

    The point is, they need less downforce and more drag. Downforce only brings the same problems that led to DRS in F1, and drag allows for close but not pack racing on ovals. Artificial? Yes. IndyCar does it right with about a third of their races being ovals a year, now they need to realize their “Aero Kits” pushed the cars too far away from the ideal power to downforce ratio they had in 2012-2014.

    1. i believe there planning to increase the power levels over the next 2-3 years which with a fairly small downforce reduction on the bigger ovals should improve things.

      looking forward to milwaukee in 2 weeks time though, love short oval racing…. wish they would go back to new hampshire that was a great track for indycar’s.

    2. Downforce creates pack racing but in F1 downforce stops cars running close. They should lean towards F1 aero then they would all be 2 seconds apart.

      Yes its dangerous but great to watch but this just shows there are always complaints. Exiting but ridiculously dangerous or cannot get close enough, sadly it’s never right.

    3. pastaman (@)
      30th June 2015, 13:00

      Agreed, that was one of the most intense races I have EVER watched

    4. I think Indycar should have pre season test at 1.5 mile ovals to analyze how close the gap between the cars.

    5. I also agree that Fontana and Indy 500 were very exciting to watch, not withstanding the danger of pack racing. Indycar has been able to create very exciting racing this year while Formula 1 has seemed to take a step back in the excitement department. I hope Indycar can adjust the downforce to decrease the danger while still keeping the high entertainment factor. As a long term Formula 1 fan I have to admit that both WEC and Indycar have been more spectacular this year.

  13. Bonkers stats on the IndyCar race: Fontana had more passes than the previous ten races combined (3,074):

    There were 3,173 on-track passes… Of those, 2,537 passes were for position.

    For the year, 6,247 on track passes (51% came Sat)

    1. How many passes in F1 between 2000-2009? Indycar may have had more passes in 1 race than F1 had in 10 seasons.

      1. haha Indy cars just about have more passes in one lap on an Oval than F1 has in a whole race.

        i am pretty impressed with how Indy Cars which are now so competitive up front, its just F1 has way more appeal because of all the different the engine manufacturers, but each to there own they are both great to watch.

        1. yes, all 4 of them… so many.

  14. The Fontana race could be epic if Will & Taku didn’t have contact.

  15. Not sure I saw any real excitement in the Fontana passes. Too much risk if you ask me. Driver error or mechanical failure is one thing, but this was clearly just rolling the dice to see if you made it.

    Carpenter and Briscoe both came out defending the pack racing afterwards, but both of these guys are part time drivers that only do anything well on ovals anyway. Nice guys but they are way outnumbered in their opinion. Lost some respect for Ed, who said if you don’t like it, retire.

  16. There must be a happy medium somewhere between the boredom of processional racing and the madness of pack racing as witnessed in the IndyCar race this past Sunday. Achieving that delicate balance may not be easy, but theoretically that is the job of those who decide regulations in their respective series. It is a tall order, but please do it with the least amount of artificial contrivances possible (hello DRS) and the greatest amount of safety. True race fans do not wish to see horrific wrecks with people getting hurt or worse.

    Speaking of safety, Graham Rahal and his team should have been penalized for one of the most dangerous refueling incidents of recent memory. It appeared to be the fault of the gasman for inserting the hose for a second time while Rahal was being released from the pits. However, Rahal continued down pit road and out onto the live track littering the track with fuel hose parts and causing a full course caution. If that does not merit a severe penalty for multiple safety violations, then why have safety regulations at all?

    The penalty should have been enforced in race so the whole field was aware of the violation, the penalty and how the results were affected immediately. It is still possible that on Wednesday the IndyCar officials may hand down some kind of decree that may or may not affect the outcome of the race. If anyone had any respect for IndyCar race officials, race control and stewards it must surely be gone now. The pit lane could have been lit afire by this incident and it is a miracle it wasn’t. (And F1 is possibly reconsidering refueling?)

    The action in the IndyCar race was truly amazing but nerve wracking at the same time. While on my easy chair in the living room of my home watching on the TV I was on the edge semi-terrified the whole race. I can only imagine how the drivers felt. I’m grateful that everyone left the race pretty much intact. Still wondering what can be done to tame it down and still have good competitive action…

    1. Massa was given a drive through penalty for similar incident in Singapore 2008

  17. If there was a Formula E race happening at the same time as a Formula 1 race, I would choose Formula E without a doubt. Everyone complains about how easy F1 cars are to drive, while Formula E cars are obviously much more difficult. With very little aerodynamic downforce,tyres with very little grip, extremely close race-long battles throughout the field, and bumpy circuits that severely punish mistakes, Formula E is everything that Formula 1 isn’t. The only thing that Formula E lacks is enough races. Recently interviewed, Formula E president (Bernie Ecclestone equivalent) Alejandro Agag stated that the Formula E calendar will expand to around 20 races by the year 2020. He also stated that around 180 cities around the globe have given interest in hosting a Formula E race, which means that Formula E should be able to expand its calendar relatively easily, unlike F1. I see nothing better about F1, other than the louder “power units” and higher top speeds, which is evidently not at all needed to have a good race. There’s my two cents.

    1. Each to their own. I prefer F1 for speed, sound and car visuals. Same reason I prefer the TT Senior to the zero race but everyone is entitled to their opinion.

  18. Indycar drivers are the bravest drivers in the world on those ovals. imagine going side by side for 800km over 2 to 3 hours, and keeping the concentration for that long just to survive the race, while still trying to race and finish ahead of your competitors. f1 could do with an oval race. f1 needs some element of danger for the drivers, instead of processional races and drs and boredome for 98% of the race for the fans watching. indycar is more exciting, the road races have better competition and racing then f1, while the ovals are just so spectacular with the relentless speed – they are the fastest races in the world of any racing series, the lap average speeds are insane – it is a unique spectacle. f1 sadly has very little spectacle left at the moment – previous it had sound and cornering speed that stood it apart from other series, now even cornering speed, its not much more then indycar or LMP1, and even in aerodynamics, LMP1 has overtaken F1, f1 is lucky it still has power to weight ratio better then other series, that is its only saving grace at the moment.

  19. Apex Assassin
    30th June 2015, 17:57

    Who cares about FE or Indy? One is lame and the other is dangerous and terrifically outdated and no one is watching either.

    1. Actually, I for one watch (and care about) F1, Indycar, FE, and the occasional Motogp race. All of these series have their strengths and weaknesses, and are entertaining in different ways.

      1. +1 who says you can only watch one. Watch them all and take the positives from each. Overall they cover everything thats great about motorsport. Impossible to have all the good bits on 1 series as whats good for one person is bad for another. I used to like offshore powerboats but seen nothing on tv for it for years.

    2. What is good for you? Watch Mercedes domination?

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