COMMENT: 14 & 15 July 2018 – Toronto IndyCar & New York Formula E

Street racing single seaters.

  • Formula E – New York double-header season finale;
  • IndyCar – Toronto GP;

Between the World Cup and getting out and about at weekends I’ve fallen behind on MotoGP, when there is a clear weekend with not much else happening I’ll catch up.

I also want to get caught up with ITV’s nightly highlights of the Tour de France!


Formula E:  New York ePrix

Brooklyn, New York, USA

Saturday

Grid top 10:
Buemi, Evans, Prost, D’Ambrosio, Abt, Piquet, Lopez, Engel, Dillman, Heidfeld

Buemi missed the inaugural event last year on WEC duty so it was impressive he found form here.

Jean-Eric Vergne could seal the title in this race – so it became fun when Vergne and Lotterer were penalised to the back row for overuse of energy in qualifying. Title rival Bird had a bad qualifying session and started 14th. Turvey was a no start after injuring his wrist in free practice, meaning JEV and Lotterer lined up 18th and 19th.

A fun opening lap! Evans lined up 2nd but at the start the car lurched to a stop, causing D’Ambrosio to check up. His team-mate Lopez, who’d made a great start, was slightly ahead and the two made contact into turn 1. One lost front wing, one lost rear wing.

And it was a fun race throughout with a lot of overtaking. A lot of it done by Lotterer and Vergne as they worked through the field, Andre cutting through quickly while JEV was a little more circumspect picking them off carefully.

Another man pushing on was Lucas di Grassi, starting 11th but with a fast race car – so quick he was 3rd by lap 15. His team-mate Daniel Abt took the lead from Buemi on lap 6 as Prost fell backwards.

Only slight chaos in the pits as the Mahindras nearly tangled, one car stopped in pitlane as it was baulked trying to enter the box. Piquet had got up to 3rd but he parked on track after his stop.

Just after the stops the Audis were now 1-2 – and di Grassi overtook Abt for the lead in a pretty forceful manner. Dario Franchitti in commentary made the point that he wouldn’t have done that to a team-mate! Daniel was not happy and he set about repassing him. Team boss Allan McNish was not happy. You can bet words were had later.

The Techeetah pair overtook their way to 5th and 6th and swapped places to put JEV in title-winning position. Sam Bird was racing for 9th and 10th but couldn’t get any further, so that guaranteed JEV the title!

Lap 35 saw a full-course yellow for Alex Lynn’s big crash, the back end of the car destroyed, the driver okay. This was converted to a Safety Car and the lengthy barrier repair turned it to a timed race.

It was action-packed too, Heidfeld got ahead of Lotterer, Engel and Bird passed Prost. Nobody was settling.

Really good stuff.

New York ePrix 1
1  Di Grassi (Audi ABT)
2  Abt (Audi ABT)
3  Buemi (Renault e.dams)
4  Dillmann (Venturi)
5  Vergne (Techeetah)
6  Heidfeld (Mahindra)
7  Lotterer (Techeetah)
8  Engel (Venturi)
9  Bird (DS Virgin)
10 Prost (Renault e.dams)

Sunday

Grid top 10:
Buemi, Lotterer, Vergne, Abt, Di Grassi, Evans, Piquet, Bird, Rosenqvist, Sarrazin

This race was all about the Teams’ Championship, Techeetah starting 2-3 and Audi 4-5.

Vergne took the lead at the start with a stout move on Buemi. Piquet got up from 7th to 5th while Abt dropped to 6th. Lotterer also took Buemi.

Unfortunately for the Techeetah pair it looked like they jumped the start! Replays showed Lotterer clearly moved before the lights went out with Vergne reacting a fraction of a second later. It was tough to see whether Vergne moved before the lights went out or not. Lotterer was given a 10-second stop/go penalty – and Vergne was not!

Full-course yellow on lap 8 for Lopez breaking his suspension on a kerb, separately there was a mis-pass between Da Costa and Fillipi causing damage which sent one of them into D’Ambrosio. Another ruined race for Dragon. Da Costa would later get a 10-second stop/go.

At the green flag Lotterer pitted to take his penalty dropping to 15th. Di Grassi and Abt started overtaking people again. The pendulum swung to Audi.

Pitstops in this race didn’t lead to any changes – though Abt complained about being brought in a lap early.

Abt and Buemi were passing and repassing each other for 3rd! The points swing kept changing, especially right at the end when Lotterer caught the tail of the points-paying positions and starting passing them.

There was some needle between Di Grassi and Vergne, DIG tapped JEV at one point and got short shrift from the Frenchman.

We don’t know what might’ve happened had Lotterer continued up front but it certainly looks like the jump start cost the team the title.

New York ePrix 2
1  Vergne (Techeetah)
2  Di Grassi (Audi ABT)
3  Abt (Audi ABT)
4  Buemi (Renault e.dams)
5  Rosenqvist (Mahindra)
6  Evans (Jaguar)
7  Piquet (Jaguar)
8  Heidfeld (Mahindra)
9  Lotterer (Techeetah)
10 Bird (DS Virgin)

Points after NYC
Drivers:
198  Jean-Eric Vergne  4 wins
144  Lucas di Grassi  2 wins
143  Sam Bird  2 wins
125  Sebastien Buemi
120  Daniel Abt  2 wins

In the end a commanding title win for JEV. It was a tall order for Bird to beat him at this venue and the resurgent Audi led to di Grassi closing a big deficit to pip him to third.

Teams:
264  Audi ABT  4 wins
262  Techeetah  4 wins
160  DS Virgin  2 wins
138  Mahindra  2 wins
133  Renault e.dams

Had Audi sorted their issues earlier they would’ve walked this, thankfully for us they didn’t and we got a battle to the last race! The other notable thing is really Audi were the only team to score regular podium finishes with both cars.


IndyCar:  Indy Toronto

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Grid:
Newgarden, Dixon, Pagenaud, Power, Rossi, Hunter-Reay, Sato, King, Hinchcliffe, Wickens

Good to see the run to turn 1 had been repaved, last year it looked evil and really hurt the racing. This year the new surface and new car aero did a lot of good. It was even 5-wide at the start! I was amazed they all got through.

Loads of side by side all the way around lap 1, something I’ve never seen here. Sato even tried that through the narrow bit near the end of the lap! Somehow Hunter-Reay got to 3rd from a 6th place start, Andretti up 5 places, but Pagenaud down 4.

Newgarden and Dixon pulled a gap over Hunter-Reay, the trio clearing off from the field.

Those trying different strategies starting pitting around lap 16-19, trying to get clear of traffic and put in some quick laps. Bourdais spun and nearly got hit but he got going with no Safety Car but needing a new front wing.

The leaders came in on lap 24 or so, but four laps later the Safety Car was out for Hunter-Reay nosed into the turn 3 tyre wall. At the same time Rossi dislodged his front wing after tapping Power.

Newgarden fluffed the restart! He got wide out of the final corner, on to marbles and dust and hit the outside wall, gifting Dixon the lead. Newgarden slow on the front straight caused avoidance, Pagenaud taking full advantage. As they cleared turn one, Rahal was fully locked up into the corner, hit Chilton and caused a chain reaction, a five car accident: Rahal, Hunter-Reay, Chilton, Bourdais and Power.

Safety Car back out again, Bourdais untangled himself, Power and RHR got restarted by the safety team, Rahal went behind the wall for 17 laps for repairs, Chilton was out on the spot. Rossi also needed another repair after being launched into the air, Newgarden and Power pitted for checks and repairs. All of a sudden, Dixon had the lead with all his title rivals at the back!

Apart from qualifying, Marco Andretti had been fast all day and he and Sato had a spirited battle for 4th place mid-race. Andretti won the place on the track mid-race but it was all for nothing as starting the very last lap he had to pit for a splash of fuel – the team admitting their error. What does the guy have to do to catch a break?

Another SC later for Binder’s stall bunched up the field. Dixon leading Wickens and Pagenaud. Through green-flag pit stops Pagenaud jumped Wickens and got his elbows out to keep him behind! It got very marginal there, a tap from Wickens, a squeeze from Pagenaud, it was just the right side of the ‘hard racing’ line and they both enjoyed the battle.

Sato hit the wall where Newgarden did but he was out, pulling over at turn 1. In the late stages Pagenaud closed up on Dixon who was running behind Hunter-Reay, unable to lap him – as soon as RHR pitted with 13 laps to go, Dixon hit the gas and drove to a clear win.

Pigot hit the wall too, a shame as he was commendable 8th.

Toronto
1  Dixon (Ganassi)
2  Pagenaud (Penske)
3  Wickens (SPM)
4  Hinchcliffe (SPM)
5  Kimball (Carlin)
6  Kanaan (Foyt)
7  Veach (Andretti)
8  Rossi (Andretti)
9  Newgarden (Penske)
10 Andretti (Andretti)

Attrition-helped maybe, but Kimball (for Carlin Racing), Kanaan (Foyt) and Veach (Andretti) all had excellent results. They had decent speed all day, they weren’t just tooling around inheriting spots.

Points after Toronto
464  Scott Dixon (Ganassi Honda)  3 wins
402  Josef Newgarden (Penske Chevy)  3 wins
394  Alexander Rossi (Andretti Honda)  1 win
373  Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Honda)  1 win
371  Will Power (Penske Chevy)  2 wins

Dixon extends a big lead. No change in position in the top five. Wickens and Pagenaud are now 6th and 7th.


Coming up this weekend:

F1 at Hockenheim.

IMSA at Lime Rock for a race for the GTLM and GTD classes, usually good fun.

ELMS at Red Bull Ring.

British GT is at Spa.

NASCAR at Loudon.

Supercars at Ipswich.

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