IndyCar crash highlights cockpit safety concerns

Weekend Racing Wrap

Posted on

| Written by

The debate over cockpit safety in open wheel racing was given fresh impetus by another alarming near-miss in IndyCar.

Also last weekend the Formula Renault Eurocup championship leader was denied another win when he was flipped over on the last lap of a race at Paul Ricard.

And two British Touring Car Championship contenders suffered a bad weekend at Rockingham, leaving two drivers as the most likely winners of this year’s title.


Race 15: Gateway

Gateway welcomed IndyCar back
IndyCar returned to Gateway Motorsports Park outside St. Louis for their first race at the oval since 2003. But the tricky 1.25-mile oval claimed its first victim before the race even started as Tony Kanaan hit the wall.

Pole sitter Will Power was the next to fall and suffered a frightening near-miss as Ed Carpenter landed on top of his Penske. Both walked away.

Once the race got going properly Josef Newgarden claimed his third victory from the last four races and strengthened his hand in the championship. He was pursued by Scott Dixon, who finished sixth-tenths of a second behind and has a 31-point deficit in the overall standings.

Newgarden sealed his victory with a bold move on team mate Simon Pagenaud, who was leading at a restart on lap 212. He went on to finish third, within a second of Newgarden, but the reigning champion is now 43 points adrift in the championship.

British Touring Car Championship

Races 22-24: Rockingham

Ash Sutton took back the lead of the championship after a strong weekend at Rockingham, as poor showings for Gordon Shedden and Rob Collard left Colin Turkington as the most realistic threat to Sutton’s title hopes.

James Cole took his maiden BTCC win in the opening race following a shock pole position on Saturday – a fantastic example of hard work and perseverance paying off after a lacklustre four and a half years in the series prior. Team mate Sutton finished behind in second after a late overtake on Jack Goff, who completed the podium.

Sutton went one better in race two by taking the win after a brilliant overtake around the outside of turn one from third place to put him into the lead. As Cole dropped back on the hard tyre and with full weight, Mat Jackson came from seventh to finish runner-up, with Colin Turkington in third. Race two saw drive of the day however, as Independents Championship leader Tom Ingram came from 32nd and last on the grid after his brakes failed before starting the first race, to finish ninth after just 16 racing laps.

The reverse grid race three saw a fairly comfortable victory from pole position for Andrew Jordan, while Adam Morgan defended second place in the closing laps following a safety car from an attacking Jason Plato. Reigning champion Shedden scored his only points of the weekend in race three with twelfth place, after a puncture in race one and broken front right in race two, both as a result of contact.

Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup

Races 16-17: Paul Ricard

Sacha Fenestraz arrived at his final home round of the season with a 27-point lead over Robert Shwarzman and left with the same margin over Will Palmer. Shwarzman was the winner on the road in both encounters but was stripped of all his point for two separate infringements.

Fenestraz would have been the winner of race one but for an ill-judged attack by Shwarzman following a last-lap restart. Shwarzman’s incautious lunge at Paul Ricard’s clumsy chicane launched the race-long leader onto his roll hoop, and earned the culprit a 25-second penalty which dropped him out of the top ten.

Shwarzman then led Fenestraz home in the second encounter only to be disqualified for a technical infringement “concerning the anti-oil surge plate” on his R-ace GP machine. Fenestraz was therefore promoted to first place.

Max Defourny inherited victory in race one, taking his second win in the series after a 16-month drought despite not leading a single lap on Saturday. Yifei Ye was promoted to second ahead of Will Palmer, followed by Red Bull junior Richard Verschoor and Renault junior Max Fewtrell completing the top five.

Defourny made it two podiums out of two on Sunday and Gabriel Aubry was promoted to the podium. Palmer came fourth ahead of top rookie Dan Ticktum.

Also last weekend

Lewis Hamilton won the Belgian Grand Prix ahead of Sebastian Vettel, with the latter’s lead now just seven points in the championship. Daniel Ricciardo finished third after a great restart following a safety car period that came about as a result of the two Force India’s once again colliding.

Charles Leclerc continued his domination of F2 qualifying in a wet session at Belgium, and went on to win another race before he was promptly disqualified afterwards, along with third placed finisher and closest championship rival Oliver Rowland. The pair both had excessive plank wear and therefore Artem Markelov took the win ahead of team mate Luca Ghiotto with Antonio Fuoco third. A great start in the sprint race from third saw Sergio Sette Camara take his first ever win in a race car, ahead of Nyck de Vries and Ghiotto who was on the podium again. Behind them Leclerc fought back from 19th to fifth, while Rowland recovered to eighth from 20th.

Mercedes junior George Russell dominated the first race in GP3, winning from pole with fastest lap ahead of Jack Aitken and Nirei Fukuzumi. Meanwhile Giuliano Alesi took his third reverse grid race win in as many rounds, with Russell flying from eighth to second and Ryan Tveter completing the podium in third.

Andrea Dovizioso took victory in the British Grand Prix for his second win in a row, and coupled with Marc Marquez’s retirement thanks to an engine failure, moved into the championship lead. Yamaha duo Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi shared the podium with Dovizioso, and now lie third and fourth in the championship.

Over to you

What racing action did you watch last weekend? Let us know in the comments.

Next weekend’s racing

The following series are in action next weekend:

  • Euroformula Open races 9-10: Silverstone
  • IndyCar race 16: Watkins Glen
  • NASCAR Cup race 25: Darlington
  • World Endurance Championship race 5: Mexico City
  • World Rallycross Championship race 9: France
  • World Series Formula V8 3.5 races 13-14: Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez

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

Weekend Racing Wrap

Browse all Weekend Racing Wraps

19 comments on “IndyCar crash highlights cockpit safety concerns”

  1. Hate it or loathe it, Power and Carpenter’s scary accident at Gateway just shows how incredibly valuable Halo could be. I wince every time I see that crash, we’re so lucky there wasn’t another Indycar fatality there.

    1. Yeah. The bottom of Carpenter’s car nearly took Power’s head off. That would have been the cruelest way to start an event that had packed grandstands and was very successful.

    2. Me too. That made my stomach turn. Bring on the ugly halos. Watching fatalities is not entertainment.

    3. The weirdest thing is that I’ve never in my life seen a crash like this result in an injury.

      Have anyone of you guys?

    4. It’s Indy they are the ones with these problems and they are the ones that are outside FIA jurisdiction.

  2. I’m also grateful no one was hurt, and I’m not anti-halo at all. It was scary for sure. But I’m wondering, given the way the cars are built, if it’s possible for the underside of a car to hit a driver’s head if it lands on top. The driver’s head is so much lower than the structure of the car behind him that it seems a car landing on top would be deflected, as it was in this case. Maybe a car landing perpendicular to the car underneath could hit a driver’s head.

    1. Yes it is possible for example, imagine the top car going across the nose of the bottom one.

  3. Mentioning Rockingham, that would be great if IndyCar had a race there in early August during F1’s break. CART went there twice before, so why not?

    Next race is at the Glen; I will be there for that. Should be a great weekend!

    1. The problem with Rockingham is that the 2 races that were held there were awful, the grandstands were half full & I believe that both CART & the event promoters lost a fortune.

      I also don’t believe international expansion is something Indycar are looking to do right now, There putting all there focus on improving the domestic audience before looking at expanding outside of the US.

    2. Making an oval race in Europe makes no sense, and Rockingham’s inner circuit is lame, as all inner curcuits at oval tracks are. Also, the venue has no tradition.

      I believe that a race in the UK is the only European race that makes sense for IndyCar, because of the large motorsport fanbase in the country. But as for the track, it should a legendary circuit…

      Such as Brands Hatch, which they raced at in 2003, the stands were packed and it was awesome event. However, they should’ve and should use the proper race track configuration, not the shorter one.

      1. One of the biggest problems with the Rockingham CART event is that on both occasions it was held at the same time as the Italian Grand Prix (this was probably something that Bernie was responsible for). And the 2001 race was actually really good. If the event was held in early August or at any other time that doesn’t conflict with any major European motor racing event then it would work IMO.

  4. Do Indycar commentators always gloss over serious accidents like this?

    1. That’s one of the guys from the radio network. Not much made of it on the highlights. The live broadcast team made a bigger deal of the crash, but not much.

    2. Not at all. That’s just the highlights video.

  5. One hell of a pass by Newgarden! Pagenaud was furious. Made for a fun finish.

    Glad Power was OK. A car going over the top of another is extremely rare. IndyCars do have some protection around the head. No Halo please, but they will have some sort of wind screen for next years package.

  6. “…some protection around the head” means there’s a lot of area that’s not protected.

    The Halo will not be the last or best stage in the effort to protect drivers from head injuries but it’s a good and necessary interim step.

    I’m kind of tired of hearing from fans (i.e people not risking their lives) that don’t want the Halo because it will ruin their fun. It’s the drivers who are risking their lives and the governing bodies that are ethically and legally bound to do their best to protect them, whose opinions matter.

    1. Exactly. And it’s the fans’ right to decide that those in charge have ruined the sport over the last twenty years and decide to go watch something else.

      1. And if that is your deciding line in the sand, they will probably gladly pay for you to consume some other form of MMA or gladiatorial entertainment to feed your need for destruction. Maybe try NASCAR

  7. Right, I’m not a racer so I’m not risking my life, but if you’re truly worried about the driver, then totally close the cockpit. Make it like a fighter jet or LPM car. If you’re honestly concerned, the halo is a half measure.

Comments are closed.