What an exciting couple of races to kick off the open-wheel season! Let’s start with Formula 1. After the lame knock-out style change to qualifying procedure (which is being reverted back to normal now), the grid was set with some cars sitting farther back than expected. Two of those cars being from Haas, the new American team making their debut in Melbourne. In my previous post, I was expecting Haas score some points (finish in the top 10) if they could just get to the end of the race. They put on quite the show! Grosjean slowly worked his way up the field, finishing 6th when it was all said and done! A result like that for a team’s first F1 race is unheard of. They definitely made a statement.
Even more compelling was the terrifying accident of Fernando Alonso. After running over the back of Gutierrez under braking into turn three, Alonso’s car slammed the wall, sliding into the gravel at high speed. If you’re up for it, the replay is here . Alonso made sure to get out quickly before the safety crew arrived because he knew his “mum was watching and didn’t want to worry her”. Pretty heads up thinking after going airborne a few moments earlier.
Back in St. Petersburg for the Indycar opener, it was no surprise to see Team Penske dominate each practice and qualifying session. However, there was a bit of a surprise for their ace Will Power. Crashing in Saturday morning practice, Will put the car on the pole a couple hours later in qualifying, only to then become ill. Indycar diagnosed him with what they thought was a concussion from earlier in the day. Come Sunday morning, Team Penske called on Oriol Servia to replace Will Power in the number 12. We learned after the race that Will ended up having a strange inner-ear infection, which created similar side effects to a concussion after his crash.
At the end of the day, Juan Montoya found victory lane for the second year in a row at St. Pete. He overtook teammate Simon Pagenaud on the last restart and never looked back. The battle of manufacturers seems to be a lot closer for Honda and Chevy, largely due to the fact that they are becoming very similar. Each brand has taken certain bits here and there of the competition’s package, evening out the playing field. At this rate though, the aero kit fails to serve its functionality in distinguishing the cars, leading me to think that the series will do away with them when the next chassis arrives. It’s become an unnecessary cost to the team owners. Indycar heads to Phoenix next for the first oval of the season before they ramp up for Long Beach, Barber, and then Indianapolis. The excitement for the 100th running of the Indy 500 is getting real.
In NASCAR land, Jimmie Johnson surpassed Dale Earnhardt on the wins list, now with 77 to his name. Not a bad accomplishment.
On another note, the Formula team at Oregon State will be completing our new chassis in the coming weeks, so I’ll have plenty to share with you all once we get busy testing! Can’t wait.