IndyCar pole sitter misses out, Formula E winner loses out

Weekend Racing Wrap

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In a strange start to the IndyCar season the pole sitter for the first event of the year was forced to miss the race due to injury.

Also last weekend the Formula E race winner was disqualified and NASCAR saw another photo-finish.


Race 1 of 16: St. Petersburg

Pagenaud took pole from one team mate, lost win to another
Friday practice went some way to deciding the outcome at St. Petersburg as a crash by Will Power (first video) eventually ruled him out of the first race of the season with concussion, despite him taking pole position on Saturday. This promoted team mate Simon Pagenaud to pole position and he duly took advantage, opening up a comfortable lead in the first half of the race.

Marco Andretti brought out the first caution of the season when he span, recovered and then stalled at turn one, and this quickly led to the second on the restart. After Juan Pablo Montoya jumped Pagenaud at turn one for the eventual lead, further back Carlos Munoz tagged Graham Rahal into a spin at the tight turn four (second video) and a chain reaction led to a nine-car pile-up. Amazingly all bar Sebastien Bourdais escaped without race ending damage.

As the race reached its final stages Montoya complained of a problem with the car – later discovered to be a broken steering arm. But had just enough to hold on for his second opening day victory in as many years, denying Pagenaud a maiden Penske triumph. Ryan Hunter-Reay completed the podium.

Formula E

Race 5 of 11: Mexico City

Di Grassi’s joy was short-lived
When the chequered flag fell on Formula E’s first Mexican round the story was of a race decided by its contentious FanBoost system. Lucas di Grassi used the extra power to slip past Jerome d’Ambrosio and while he disappeared off into the lead D’Ambrosio was left to fight an increasingly fraught rearguard action against Sebastien Buemi.

Without Fanboost this gripping scrap would have been for victory and as things turned out it was. Di Grassi fell foul of a post-race technical inspection – his first car was found to be underweight – and D’Ambrosio was promoted to a hard-earned victory.

Buemi, who started fifth after slipping up in qualifying, pushed D’Ambrosio every millimetre of the way. He ran into his rival at one point, then got ahead by jumping one of the many chicanes around the truncated Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez track. Buemi wisely attempted to concede the position but succeeded only in costing D’Ambrosio more places, which the Dragon driver then regained by cutting the final chicane before being waved past by Buemi.

Abt did not appeal Di Grassi’s disqualification – the car was a whopping 1.8 kilograms too light. That meant instead of leaving Mexico leading the championshi pby six points, Di Grassi trails Buemi by 22. Bizarrely, this was Di Grassi’s second disqualification from victory in Formula E’s 16-race existence, and just as in Berlin last D’Ambrosio and Buemi were the benefactors.


Race 4 of 36: Phoenix

Another NASCAR photo-finish

For the second time in four NASCAR races the leaders crossed the finishing line side-by-side with just one hundredth of a second in it. Stewart-Haas racer Kevin Harvick was the winner this time, edging out Carl Edwards after a robust attack from his Joe Gibbs rival around the 313th and final lap.

Harvick, the fourth different winner in as many races so far this year, shares the lead in the points standings with Kyle Busch.

Over to you

Which of these races did you manage to watch or attend? Or did you enjoy something we haven’t covered? Let us know in the comments.

Next week the 67th running of the Formula One world championship begins with the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park in Melbourne. It will be supported by the V8 Supercars series, though due to a rights clash with Formula One Management theirs will be a non-championship round.

Over in America the 12 Hours of Sebring – round two of the IMSA series – takes place, and the NASCAR field heads to California’s Fontana superspeedway.

Thanks to Robert Mathershaw (@Mathers) for contributing to this article.

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28 comments on “IndyCar pole sitter misses out, Formula E winner loses out”

  1. I was overawed by the NASCAR finish.

    To have ‘Days of Thunder’ (or any silly racing movie, like ‘Driven’ or ‘Talladega Nights’, as a matter of fact) happen once (in Daytona,) is one thing – to have it happen twice in four races is just out of this world.

    You can’t beat a photo finish for the win in terms of show.

    And it may have been plate racing – with all it’s uncanny positional, wide-open racing style – in Daytona, but it was a driver, Edwards, getting way closer, visible closer to that elusive edge in Turns 3 and 4 to drive up onto the quarterpanel of Harvick to set up that banging finish. It was a show – but with a driver driving his car on the limit. It’s unbeatable.

    1. *to set up that banging finish IN PHOENIX.

    2. It could be better if Kahne didn’t hit the wall.

    3. Love that video!! “Rubbing’s Racing” at its finest!

  2. That Will Power incident is a bit odd.. It’s almost as if he rides a bump and looses his grip on the steering wheel!?

    Or am I seeing things!? Lol

    1. @nemo87 it looks like something in the suspension broke, causing the car to go straight and into the wall.

      The “losing grip on the steering wheel” would have been intentional – Indycars have no power steering, so when they are about to crash it’s important for drivers to let go of the wheel. If they don’t, the wheel will break their wrists as it snaps back and forth.

    2. During the race the commenters mentioned that Power had been adjusting brake bias and had only one hand on the wheel and just did not manage to make the turn with that one hand (remember, no power steering makes it quite a bit tougher to turn) @nemo7

      1. remember, no power steering makes it quite a bit tougher to turn

        You mean half a power steering? :)

        1. :-) the best part is it took me two readings to get this one! @xtwl

      2. @bascb @nemo87 It reminds me a little bit of when Pastor Maldonado managed to get lost during a practice session in China having fiddled with his wheel…

  3. 1.8kg underweight?!

    I mean, a minor slip up is one thing… But then there’s forgetting to put in an entire chicken’s worth of weight into the car!

    Blimey, that might be costly to diGrassi’s championship!

    1. And it isn’t the first time Abt fiddle with the car either. IMO if it does cost him the championship then the penalty does exactly what it should do – discourage from cheating (or making sure REALLY sloppy work gets noticed, 1.8 kg really is a lot not to notice)

  4. Mark in Florida
    14th March 2016, 1:48

    I went to the St. Pete grand prix. I sat in turn 10 where their is usually a lot of action. Didn’t happen. The aero kits have the car’s glued to the road so tight that they barely lifted going into the turn. Lift, brake, nail it to the floor. Used to be that they would slow down and almost slide going into the turn, not any more. It was somewhat processional except for the turn 4 incident. Pirelli World Challenge was a joke most of the 50 minute race was under a caution due to two incidences caused by a Porsche knocking the engine completely out of the car. Later a McLaren got bumped and destroyed itself. That’s pretty much all the high lights.

    1. The first race of the PWC was pretty good. I watched both from home while doing other things so though the caution was indeed long it didn’t bother me as much. Shame there isn’t a stronger grid for this as they do race on interesting tracks.

      1. In the end just also happy it’s a double Porsche win. The new GT3 is leaving its marks already!

    2. I’m worried Indycar is becoming like F1 with grip levels,.. they should just up the boost of the turbos instead of these body kits, the last couple seasons have been great with overtaking, this season with higher grip and dirty air might not be as good – it might be like f1.

  5. Johnnie Röös
    14th March 2016, 2:13

    Rosenqvist won his second race in Indy lights and in The first race he did something to The engiemap so it was on wet settings and only haved 70% engie power and still finished 7th

  6. All these clips highlight how much better F1 is!

  7. Why are the rear of these cars so big, why can’t they have a slim rear closer to F1, at least the Formula E can do it to decrease weight an increase aero. I know its regulations, but what stops them from changing it. Costs?

    1. *weight and aero

  8. I remember a few years back Indycar used to show 8 or 9 minute long highlight videos, which gave you a great insight into the complexion and different stages of a race. Yesterday’s rave has a 1 minute 43 second highlight video. Bad form!

    1. And they have a full races on YT

      1. Yeah Ilove YT motosport…

  9. IndyCar race seemed a little bland compared with what we usually see. I’m no expert, but is the course at St. Petersburg to blame? The race reminded me a little of F1 at Monaco. It’s the glamor event of F1, and everyone wants desperately to win it, but isn’t it usually a pretty dull race?

    1. Not really glamorous and not really dull at St. Petersburg. It was a bit less crazy compared to an average Indy race but it was still a great race:

      We had a great overtaking for the lead
      We had carnage that affected half the field
      We had overtaking throughout the field including also, let’s not forget, a pass for the podium with 3 laps to go

      F1 at Monaco can only dream of having the same amount of action. Indycar fans have become a bit spoiled ;)

      One last thing about St. Pete: It’s less exciting than average Indycar race also because Penske’s are dominant there. They’ve always had a setup for this track no team can beat and won 8 out of 12 runnings

      1. You’re right, we’re spoiled. I’ve been to the past two races at Iowa and had a great time. And even Sunday, at least the race wasn’t decided by the first corner. But I’ll still watch F1. Sometimes the racing is decent, and even when it isn’t there’s always the soap opera factor.

  10. Indycar guys should better watch out. On pure talent there’s no one there close to Montoya. If he gets into his stride, it’ll be very difficult for them to stop him

    The way he executed this race, the pass on Pagenaud, the managing of his problem(he had a broken steering arm and still was managing to pull away!) suggests to me he’s back to his best and even at 40 years old his best is better overall than even Power’s and Dixon’s let alone everyone else in Indycar

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