Weekend Preview: 23/24 June 2018 – Paul Ricard & Elkhart Lake

With apologies for the lack of post-race piece about Le Mans. I’ve got 1400 words in the edit where I’ve got stuck in rewrites, give me a day or two.

Coming up this weekend:

  • F1 – French GP, Paul Ricard, Le Castellet.
  • IndyCar – Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

Times are approximate and in British Summer Time.


Formula 1: French Grand Prix

Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet, France

The return of the French Grand Prix! Long-awaited and much missed.

Circuit Paul Ricard is an interesting choice. It held the GP 30 years ago but since became a test track, few facilities for fans, and added blue and red lines all over which provide acres of run-off but which screw up the tyres if they are run over (as a disincentive for doing so).

On Friday the fans had a nightmare getting in and out of the circuit. Officials were under-prepared and didn’t react at all. This is almost certainly going to be a disaster come Sunday.

The race itself? They’re using the chicane on the Mistral, a mistake. I’ve seen ELMS races using the full straight but where the supporting World Series by Renault used the chicane. The WSR races were okay but the chicane broke up the flow. LMP cars on the big straight into the fast corner were fun to watch – still incredibly ballsy even with all that runoff. F1 cars would be a lot of fun. It’d put a stress on the tyres, but the throttle works both ways!

Despite all this I hope it is a good one any problems are solved either this year or next. The world ought to have a French Grand Prix and as a race track this isn’t bad.

Points after Montreal
Drivers:
121 Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 3 wins
120 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 2 wins
86  Valterri Bottas (Mercedes)
84  Daniel Ricciardo (Mercedes)
68  Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)
60  Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

Constructors:
206 Mercedes AMG;
189 Scuderia Ferrari;
134 Red Bull Racing;
56  Renault F1;
40  McLaren Renault;
28  Force India Mercedes;


IndyCar Series:  Elkhart Lake

Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, USA

I like that IndyCar is a chameleon of a series. On a short oval it is a bit like NASCAR. On a big oval it is unique. On a street track it is a bit like Formula E with crazy shenanigans. And at Road America it is like a Formula 1 Grand Prix.

This is a great track and IndyCars look at home here. I hope they race well this year – the only true natural terrain road course we’ve seen with the 2018 aero kit was Barber Motorsports Park and that was a wet race. And the Indy infield road course is a unique situation. Previously the high-downforce kit was spectacularly fast here but not so good with racing, maybe this’ll be different.

Regardless, it’ll be a challenge as it always is. The longest track on the calendar. This is one to watch if you like a bit of race strategy, if you like cars threading up and down hill through a forest, if you like a sense of occasion, if you like a race that is earned rather than fluked.

Points after Texas
357  Scott Dixon (Ganassi Honda)  2 wins
334  Alexander Rossi (Andretti Honda)  1 win
321  Will Power (Penske Chevy)  2 wins
308  Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Honda)  1 win
289  Josef Newgarden (Penske Chevy)  2 wins
250  Graham Rahal (RLL Honda)


Elsewhere

After a break for Le Mans the entire world is racing again this week. I like that they honour the 24 Hours by giving it space.

Formula 2 and GP3 at Paul Ricard.
Indy Lights and PWC at Road America.
World Superbikes at Laguna Seca.
DTM and F3 Europe at Norisring, Germany.
WTCR at Vila Real, Portugal.
BTCC at Croft.
NASCAR Cup at Sonoma, California.
NASCAR Trucks at Gateway.
Blancpain GT at Misano, Italy.
VLN3 at Nurburgring (Saturday).

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