danica BrettM

danica BrettMDanica Patrick lives by the philosophy that thoughts become things. As such, Patrick has shifted that approach to her on-track performance.

"You know what I did, I talked about having bad luck too much. So, all I did was have bad luck," Patrick cracked earlier this week at Stewart-Haas Racing. "So, I'm not going to talk about it. I'm so glad I'm having good luck."

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Luck. A word the No. 10 team has used a lot this year. It's easy to do so when three of Patrick's seven DNFs were not of her own doing. Instead, early in the season Patrick seemed to find herself in the right place at the wrong time with one of her peers collecting her in an accident.

For example, in the Bristol spring race David Ragan caught Patrick's right-side door while stuck in the middle of a three-wide battle, sending her nose-first into the wall. A mechanical issue for Joey Logano at Kansas jerked his car to the left, hooking the right rear of Patrick and starting a vicious crash in Turn 1 that injured Aric Amirola. Running low on a late restart in June at Michigan, the spinning Camry of Daniel Suarez came across the track and collided with Patrick.

The restrictor-plate tracks of Daytona (two races) and Talladega also saw Patrick involved in crashes. And the lone DNF that wasn't because of an accident occurred at Las Vegas when the engine in Patrick's Ford soured.

The summer has been far kinder. In the last eight races, Patrick has an average finish of 17.5 with five top-20 finishes. She was in the top 15 at Kentucky, New Hampshire, Indianapolis and Pocono.

"I think we have finally found ourselves having clean races and staying out of trouble and getting lucky on top of not having bad luck; we've had some good luck, too," Patrick said. "Indy comes to mind of just surviving that and being in the right place at the right time here and there.

"Yes, I still have to turn the wheel and avoid accidents, but you never know at what point in time there's nothing you can do anymore. So, we've been on the better side of that."

danica pocono thacker

Crew chief Billy Scott told RACER that SHR's lag to start the year came in part from the organization's switch to Ford. Six months into the year, Scott says no one at SHR is where they want to be. However, it has been nice for the 10 team to be trending upward.

The same also goes for the relationship between Scott and Patrick. Since taking the reins of the No. 10 team last year, Scott says he's learned just how passionate Patrick is about her job.

"She expects to run well and does what it takes to do so," Scott said. "She puts in the work and has the determination. She never gives up."

Not including her part-time schedule in 2012, Patrick previously worked with Tony Gibson (for 69 races) and Daniel Knost (for 39 races). Scott believes the constant changes in team personnel, cars and now new a manufacturer haven't helped Patrick develop a usable notebook.

So, if nothing else, Scott likes the consistency – both on and off the track – he and his driver have developed in a short amount of time.

"[The chemistry] is always getting better but it's at a pretty good place," Scott said. "We've been to all these tracks enough times now that you get to develop some notes. You get to know what the trends are, not just her driving style, but our car builds and how they all tie together. That's helpful and it just comes with time."

When asked what the strengths of the team are, Scott took a page out of his driver's book, pointing to attitude and being able to stay focused or recover quickly.

"I think one thing we always do, and even last weekend [at Michigan] was an example, while we didn't really have a great finish (22nd), I don't ever give up, Billy doesn't, the team doesn't, we just generally stay positive," Patrick said. "I think that staying positive is what then allowed us to go out there in qualifying and get something from [the race] that was respectable instead of it be a spiral of a weekend.

"I think we have a really good ability to stay positive among any trouble or drama that happens."

This weekend, Patrick brings the power of positivity to Bristol. Although she won't say she enjoys going to the bullring, Patrick does enjoy getting to perform the bump-and-run. In the spring, Patrick was running 25th before her accident. She has one top-10 finish in 10 Bristol starts.

MarshallPruett 2017Reunion 2017 08 17 066Ride with Mazda Prototype driver Jonathan Bomarito as he turns his first laps in the iconic 767B Le Mans racer at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.



Formula 1's mandatory two-week shutdown during August means a rare opportunity for time on the beach for the teams. But with the driver market about to kick itself open, you can guess what a lot of team bosses are thinking about while lying in their deckchairs.

As it stands, three of the top four drivers in the drivers' championship - of which two have won races and all three have secured pole positions - are out of contract. There is a TBC against both Ferrari drivers as well as Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes, and it can all be traced back to 2 December, 2016.

On that day, Nico Rosberg uttered the line: "I have decided to end my Formula 1 career at this moment". He was the world champion, in a dominant car, and suddenly vacated a seat that every driver on the grid wanted – but few were in a position to claim.

Bottas got it, but only – initially – for one year. Mercedes wasn't expecting Rosberg's bombshell, but the situation left it analyzing the driver market moving forward, and it quickly identified that three world champions - Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso - are out of contract at the end of 2017.

Lewis Hamilton also becomes available at the end of next season, which means that Mercedes will want to get its 2018 driver decision right to allow for continuity should the Brit decide to leave. So Bottas was the best option for this year, but he was effectively put on trial when it comes to looking longer-term. With a potential Mercedes seat available, Vettel has yet to commit to Ferrari, and that means Raikkonen has been left waiting, too.

As is often the case, the rest of the market is in limbo while waiting to see whether Mercedes and Ferrari stick or twist. The more competitive teams have the more desirable seats, and drivers will accordingly hang on to see if they can secure a move up the grid rather than fold and confirm their future further down the pecking order prematurely.

The majority of observers would agree that Bottas has done enough to keep his seat for next year. He's proven he can win races and take pole positions, he is improving with each passing weekend, and he has shown he has the right temperament to work with Hamilton, exemplified by their position-swapping in Hungary.


So it would be a surprise to not see Bottas retained. As great as it would be to watch Hamilton and Vettel going head-to-head in the same car, it would be massively difficult to make such a partnership work. The history between Hamilton and Alonso will also be a warning to Mercedes - despite the pair enjoying a much better relationship than a decade ago - and so everything points to keeping Bottas.

But Vettel holds the key to the whole market, because a German four-time world champion (perhaps even five-time by 2018) would be an attractive proposition for a German team. It has been reported he only wants a one-year extension at Maranello for now, and such a contract could result in Mercedes also limiting the length of its commitment to Bottas.

While Raikkonen is likely to get an extra year should Vettel stay - Ferrari's junior drivers Antonio Giovinazzi and Charles Leclerc not yet considered ready to replace him – a departing Vettel would leave Maurizio Arrivabene is searching for a new team leader, and Raikkonen isn't it.

That's exactly why there are so many drivers delaying a decision on next year. Alonso knows Mercedes is all but a closed door to him, but a return to Ferrari could appeal as unfinished business. Sergio Marchionne played down such talk recently and yes, it sounds fanciful – but so did a return to McLaren.

The only team sitting comfortably right now is Red Bull, with Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen under contract for next season. But with only one and two years respectively left on their deals, Mercedes and Ferrari will be factoring both in when it comes to longer-term planning.

Williams is also unlikely to see much in the way of movement, with Lance Stroll staying put and Felipe Massa remaining alongside him as a benchmark. If there is a change, it could well be to bring Bottas back should the Finn be dropped by Mercedes, with Williams having originally announced a Bottas-Stroll pairing for 2017.

A very impressive season so far from Sergio Perez means the Mexican will feel he has a shot at a Ferrari seat, but Force India can remain somewhat relaxed in the knowledge it has marked itself out as his best option outside the top three teams. Esteban Ocon is likely to remain for a second year after signing a multi-year deal last winter, despite interest from Renault.


That Renault interest comes because it has one of the more obvious seats that needs filling. Jolyon Palmer earned a reprieve last year when Kevin Magnussen moved on, but he's failed to take that second chance. A match for Nico Hulkenberg is the target, and while Alonso will be tempting, a Robert Kubica comeback is an even better story. With Perez and Carlos Sainz already on the Renault shortlist, there's guaranteed to be action at Enstone regardless of what happens at the front of the grid.

Having confirmed Sainz for next year, Red Bull's Christian Horner then admitted the Spaniard would be available for the right price. The problem Red Bull has is a lack of talent waiting in the wings for a Toro Rosso seat, with Pierre Gasly still not guaranteed to replace Daniil Kvyat next year, having failed to overly impress in Japan's Super Formula this year so far. Behind Gasly, Red Bull's best-placed young driver is Niko Kari, currently 11th in the GP3 standings.

Magnussen will remain at Haas after signing for two years, but Romain Grosjean will do the same as Perez and play the waiting game. Gene Haas says he plans on keeping both drivers and its likely he'll get his wish, but the Frenchman will want both Ferrari seats to be confirmed before committing to Haas. Should he leave, both Giovinazzi and Leclerc have driven in FP1s for the team and would be the first picks to step in.

Those two Ferrari prospects are more likely to end up at Sauber following a recent power unit deal, with sources indicating that F2 title leader Leclerc is already provisionally confirmed at Hinwil. That throws Pascal Wehrlein's future into doubt: Force India is an option if Renault can get Ocon, although Wehrlein was overlooked when the team was searching for a replacement for Hulkenberg.

And then we get to McLaren. For once, the team isn't calling the shots. Stoffel Vandoorne should be safe, having shown good improvements recently, but it's Alonso who the team is worried about. The Spaniard's dissatisfaction with Honda has given him a lot of power, and his appearance at the Indy 500 proved that he's not afraid to use it.

McLaren isn't the attractive proposition it once was, and while it boasts some excellent young talent in the form of Lando Norris, 2018 is too soon to put the 17-year-old in a race seat alongside Vandoorne. Both sides know this, so Alonso is likely to get what he wants out of any deal, but he is likely to wait for the Mercedes and Ferrari seats to be finalized before committing.

It remains a waiting game, but the most likely outcome is for Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull to boast the same driver line-ups next year, which in turn would almost certainly lead to stability at Force India, Williams, Haas and McLaren, with only Toro Rosso, Renault and Sauber experiencing changes.

That said, it will only take one departure from either Brackley or Maranello for the whole stack of cards to come falling down.



Ferrari protege Charles Leclerc insists he does not feel any added pressure despite being linked with an F1 seat in 2018.

Having won last year's GP3 championship, Leclerc has been in stunning form in Formula 2 this year, currently leading the standings by 50 points. The Prema driver has been exceptional in qualifying, securing pole position at every round, but had his victory streak end at six after being disqualified from the results in Hungary last time out.

The performances have prompted Ferrari to push on with plans to promote Leclerc into an F1 seat next season, with RACER understanding that a deal for him to drive for Sauber is provisionally in place.

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"The results in this first part of the season have been better than expected and we're clearly delighted about that," Leclerc told the official Formula 1 website. "Seeing my name in the media more often and having it linked to Formula 1 and Ferrari is nice, but it's not putting any extra pressure on me.

"I am focusing on what I have to do with Prema, leaving others to think about my future."

And Leclerc insists there is no risk of him losing focus in the F2 title race, because he is aware that failure to secure the championship from this position would prove costly to his future hopes to drive for Ferrari.

"There's never a day goes by when I don't think about what I want to achieve and I always give a hundred percent to get there," he said. "Being in Formula 1 is my dream and my goal, and I am doing everything I can to make it happen.

"Yes, it's true, racing for the Scuderia would be the realization of a dream. But for now I have to focus solely on winning in F2, on giving it my all over the next few months. If I don't succeed, then I won't really go much further."

Leclerc got his first taste of 2017 F1 machinery during the post-race test at the Hungaroring earlier this month, driving for Ferrari on the opening day and setting the fastest time late in the afternoon session.

sauber coatesHonda's head of F1 project Yusuke Hasegawa says the cancellation of the Japanese manufacturer's deal to supply Sauber with power units in 2018 is "very disappointing."

Sauber and Honda announced a power unit partnership at the Russian Grand Prix at the end of April, with the deal set to see Honda supplying a team other than McLaren for the first time since returning to F1 in 2015. However, following a change of ownership at Sauber and discussions over the terms of the deal, the team opted to cancel the collaboration and instead signed a new contract with Ferrari.

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"Of course it is very disappointing," Hasegawa told RACER about the end of the Sauber deal. "Although it is a customer team program so it doesn't hurt our program very much, but we still expected to get the opportunity to get our engine running more. We would have got more data and been able to make comparisons, so it is very disappointing.

"More than that, on the practical side, we had to stop the preparation. So it is very bad."

And Hasegawa says he didn't have much of a warning before the deal was called off, with discussions being carried out by Honda's motorsport manager Masashi Yamamoto.

"I wasn't in the meetings, that was Yamamoto-san. Actually [Sauber technical director] Jorg Zander and I were in very good communication all the time, so we both didn't believe that we would have to stop this collaboration until the final moment."

With Honda enduring another tough season, new Sauber team principal Frederic Vasseur says uncertainty over its future with McLaren was also part of his thinking when it came to changing plans for 2018.

"The start of the discussion with Honda was eight months ago and the situation changed drastically on both sides," Vasseur said. "We reached a point that at one stage it was better for everybody to stop the discussions and we did it in a very fair way with Honda and I would like to thank them for the discussion we had. It was a good thing for me.

"We are in a quite tough situation in terms of pace and we need to have reference. On the Honda side, we don't know exactly what will happen with the McLaren deal. It's also a tricky situation for us."

bourdais levittlatMarshall Pruett and Robin Miller dive into the possibility of IndyCars surpassing 200 mph on road courses with the new 2018 bodywork, discuss Mikhail Aleshin's exit from IndyCar, Sebastien Bourdais being medically cleared to race, and whether the 2018 bodywork provides more or less space for sponsor logos.

red bull hone Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes Formula 1 is "really at a crossroads" when it comes to planning for the sport's future engine direction.

The current 1.6-liter V6 power units that were introduced in 2014 have helped deliver massive improvements in efficiency but have proven expensive, with the FIA taking steps to reduce the cost over the coming seasons in order to keep the current technology in place until 2020. Discussions are already taking place over what the next engine formula should be from 2021 onward – with many external manufacturers involved in the talks this year – but Horner wants F1 to move away from road relevancy.

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"I think we are really at a crossroads in terms of what do we want for the future," Horner said. "I think the technology belongs in Formula E, it has its place. It has the interest of the manufacturers in that type of racing and I think Formula 1 needs to go back to basics in many respects and focus on the ultimate competition of wheel-to-wheel racing, chariot racing in many respects. Who is the best driver working in the best team with the technology not playing such a high percentage [of influence]."

And Horner himself says he would reintroduce larger capacity engines, having made such a suggestion during a fan appearance at Silverstone and received positive feedback from those at the British Grand Prix this year.

"Personally if it were me, I would go back to a normally-aspirated, high-revving engine, whether it's a V10 or even a V12. We're producing this car for Aston Martin [the Valkyrie] and we went to the market and did a lot of research into what people wanted.

"Did they want a modern hybrid Formula 1-type engine or did they want a normally-aspirated, high-revving engine? Overwhelmingly the response came back [in favor of a naturally-aspirated V12].

"I did my own fan survey at Silverstone, which I'm happy to play you actually because it's quite overwhelming in terms of the reaction. When you actually ask the people what they want, it's pretty compelling."

However, Horner concedes the likelihood is for a V6 twin turbo to be introduced in 2021, but is at least encouraged that the current discussions place an emphasis on the sound of the next F1 engine.

"I doubt we'll go back to a normally-aspirated engine despite that being mine and the Silverstone crowd's wish. We'll end up with a V6 twin turbo, I'm pretty certain about that.

"But you know acoustics are a key aspect of what's been put on the table. Because unfortunately when this engine was introduced, the cost nor attractiveness – effectively through noise – were fundamental parts of what the engine should be."

16C 7400 1aChanges to the floor on IndyCar's high-downforce 2018 bodywork highlight how the series is reshaping its aero identity.

At the onset of the 2018 project, the Verizon IndyCar Series stated a clear goal to lower its reliance on big front and rear road/street/short oval wing arrays to make the Dallara DW12 chassis perform. In concert with its move toward fewer topside wings, the series also expressed its desire to have the DW12's underwing play a greater role in making downforce.

Together, by lowering the amount of downforce and turbulence created by the exposed topside wings, and letting the floor do more of the downforce work, it will be easier for cars to follow closely and attempt more passes.

16C 7995 1aaIndyCar and its partners at Dallara completed the relatively straightforward process of modifying the DW12's high-downforce wing package, but achieving its goal with the floor wasn't as simple. A comprehensive redesign of the front section that meets the air was required.

Looking at a timeline of how IndyCar and Dallara have used the DW12's floor to make or shed downforce, the original car was delivered with a wide, full floor that filled most of the void behind the front tires. At the floor's leading edge, the design had a modest radius that curled out to the edge where an anti-intrusion fin – the "sponsor blocker" as some team owners dubbed it – was located (below).

IndyCar SebringST3512 Pruett 087Although the section of the underwing between the fin and radiator inlet wasn't overly effective at helping to generate downforce underneath the car (below, in green), it was left unaltered.

IndyCar SebringST3512 Pruett 272aThat changed in 2015 when Chevy and Honda were allowed to manufacture custom aero kits. Having seen the initial high-downforce numbers produced by the aero kits, which easily surpassed anything the stock Dallara bodywork generated, IndyCar decided it needed to bring those numbers down. Together with Dallara, a new spec floor was introduced in 2015 with the aero kits that took underbody downforce away through new, permanent triangular cutouts (below, in green) that reduced the size of the floor.

The original floor's radius at the leading edge was replaced by a straight piece that provided stability for the anti-intrusion fin, and altogether, the series managed to remove a modest amount of downforce while increasing turbulence.

2015IndyCarstPetePruett 3272015 235aRather than lock itself into another situation with a permanent hole built into the floor, IndyCar was determined to give itself options for 2018. The result is a dual-purpose front floor design with a reprofiled hole that could be left open for low-downforce superspeedways (below) or easily converted to make downforce by installing carbon fiber panels that plug the openings (bottom). The unloved anti-intrusion fin was removed altogether.

MarshallPruett IndyCar 2018BodyworkTest72517 009116C 7923 1aDespite the intensive work to redesign the forward floor, the series found the same issue it had experienced with the original DW12 floor – ineffective airflow and downforce production in the outer region behind the front tires – had returned, and would need to be addressed.

2018 IndyCar Floor Comparo 1An innovative solution – a forward floor diffuser, to re-energize the air traveling under the outer section – was devised to rectify the problem. By using a small diffuser with a Gurney flap attached just aft of the floor's leading edge, the stagnating air beneath the floor's outer section is pulled up and through a rectangular slot, and with the Gurney keeping the rising air attached to the upswept diffuser profile before exiting atop the floor, low pressure is created.

"Without the slot, the underwing was too wide and low, so the air did not want to flow well and choked," IndyCar aero director Tino Belli told RACER.

With the permanent holes added in 2015, some of that choking problem was alleviated, but the floor also lost approximately 140 pounds of downforce. With the new diffuser, IndyCar has taken back the 140 pounds of downforce it surrendered and added 140 more for 2018.

"With the slot and Gurney we have created a new front diffuser, which is where the extra 140 pounds of downforce comes from," Belli said.

16C 7995 1aaThe placement of the forward floor diffuser in 2018's high-downforce trim also helps the overall aerodynamic balance of the DW12. It's a big improvement over the current hole in the floor that takes downforce away from the front of the car – and shifts the center of pressure rearward – in a detrimental manner on high-downforce tracks.

"We lost a lot of front downforce when we opened up the hole in the floor," Belli said of the 2015-2017 design.

2018 IndyCar Floor Comparo 3Thanks to 2018's forward floor diffuser, teams should be able to use lower front wing angles at high-downforce tracks due to the center of pressure shift toward the nose of the DW12.

"And it is nice front downforce," Belli added. "We're reducing the reliance on the front wing, which should be good when following another car. Now you'll be able to get closer before the underwing gets affected by the wake of the car in front."

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