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16C 7152 1Robin Frijns gave his Andretti Autosport team plenty to think about after spending a half-day in Ryan Hunter-Reay's No. 28 Honda Indy car at Mid-Ohio. The Dutchman, 24, had never seen the track or turned a lap in a Dallara DW12, yet came within 0.18 seconds of matching the best time set by RHR during the cooler morning test session.

Andretti's FIA Formula E driver, who rose up the European open-wheel ranks and reached Formula 1 as a test driver with Caterham in 2014, made a compelling case for future consideration within Andretti's IndyCar operation.

frijns"I enjoyed it a lot; it was the first car with downforce I've driven in a few years since Formula 1, and I only drove that car three times with it," Frijns (pictured) told RACER. "I always told myself I enjoy downforce cars more, so I'm thankful to Michael for the opportunity.

"It was my first time seeing the track and driving the car, and Ryan did the first 10 laps with new tires and did a good lap time. Then I jumped in and was straight on the pace. The second and third outings were good with the tires I had on, so we put a new set on and I almost matched Ryan's time. He's a very good driver, so it was a good benchmark to have."

The combination of high temperatures and the heavy physical expenditure that comes from driving an Indy car at Mid-Ohio took its toll on Frijns, although as he tells it, the lack of driving aids and power steering wasn't a bad thing.

"It was a bit physical for me because it has been a while since I drove a downforce car," he said. "Like anyone, your body has to get used to it for one day and the second day would be fine – but I only had one day. It was a new experience; I was used to all the buttons and stuff [in F1], but here, the driver has to do everything himself in the car, which is a bit more of my style.

"The engine has good sound, which is different from Formula 1 today. I liked it a lot. I had a lot of fun with the team and they are very passionate about racing. I was very comfortable with the team and the car."

Frijns is coming off a solid debut season with the Amlin Andretti Formula E program (below) and has signed to return next season. It leaves guest appearances as the only option for the immediate future and, given the chance, he'd welcome racing for his team owner in multiple series.

"I signed to do a Formula E season with Andretti again next year, so that's the first goal to fight for the championship and win races, and if an IndyCar race comes along, that would be a bonus," he added. "It's not my decision, but I would love to race one day in IndyCar. Let's wait and see what Michael's going to do."

 FER5134

World champions Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button are hoping Formula 1's new technical direction for 2017 will address their unhappiness with its current state.

Both McLaren-Honda drivers have criticized F1 recently, with Alonso attacking the conservative style of racing and reiterating his belief that the current cars are too slow reiterating his belief that the current cars are too slow, while Button suggested "this sport has a long way to go before it's good again" after getting penalized for a radio rules infringement in the Hungarian Grand Prix.

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Next season F1 will adopt new technical regulations that are designed to free up engine development and produce faster cars, featuring better tyres and enhanced aerodynamics. Alonso has already suggested he may leave F1 if next year's cars do not address his concerns, and he is expecting a significant improvement.

"I think next year the cars will be a bit more challenging, a bit more exciting," he said. "The speed on the corners should go back to what we used to feel in the past – what Formula 1 should be.

"I think Friday in GP2 [in Hungary], in the first session, it was two or three seconds off the pace of Formula 1 in free practice one and that's unacceptable. The cars now are too slow. So next year we will go back to our normal Formula 1."

Teammate Button's future remains in doubt, as his McLaren contract is due to expire at the end of 2016, but he thinks every F1 driver will excited by the prospect of new, faster cars for next season.

"We've both been around a few years and remember the days of V10s and tire wars and massive amount of downforce," he said. "We've experienced so many different types of Formula 1 and the last few haven't been the best in terms of the regulation changes.

"Formula 1 as a whole understands that, and that's why we have these big changes for the future. We're not in the right place. I think next year is a good step forward.

"You could say it's brave because it's a lot of changes – mechanical grip, aerodynamic grip – but I think it's fantastic that Formula 1 is on this path. It will be more like we're used to. We'll get out of the cars with a bigger grin on our faces and I think the sport will grow because of that."

Button also reckons the racing spectacle will not be unduly affected by large increases in aerodynamic performance.

"I don't think overtaking is going to be more of an issue," he added. "Because of the type of aerodynamics we have on the cars next year it shouldn't be affecting the front wings as much as people might expect."

 

Originally on Autosport.com

TVil2Spin the camera in any direction as you ride with Toni Vilander inside the Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 racecar during practice for IMSA's WeatherTech SportsCar Championship event at Lime Rock Park.

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Further details have emerged about the latest official Formula 1 video game, "F1 2016," ahead of its release next month.

Game developer Codemasters has gradually announced new features that build on the 2015 version of the series, featuring a returning career mode, several in-race tweaks to create more realism, and refined gameplay features.

I recently got a chance to try the game in its latest guise and speak with the developers, giving a greater insight into what to expect.

CAREER MODE

This option was absent from last year's game, and the returning version is far more developed than any of the previous attempts since 2010.

The most striking feature of the new career mode is a development race between the teams that spans all 10 seasons, meaning the competitive order is guaranteed to change over the course of a player's career.

While the player has to earn development points through race weekend performances, the computer-controlled (AI) teams also develop independently, and at different rates of progress. If you drag a small team toward the front of the field, don't be surprised if one of the big-hitters unleashes a major upgrade package to move back ahead.

The player has control of which areas of the car to focus on, meaning it is possible to sign for McLaren and focus on engine updates to move the team up the grid.

Extra development points can be earned through completing tasks in free practice, giving those sessions a relevance they have never had in a game before. You can start off with track familiarization before moving onto the realistic jobs of qualifying simulation work and long runs to judge tire life.

The tire life test also helps the game customise a much more detailed set of strategy options for the player, mapped out through graphs representing how the various tire choices are likely to perform in a race.

In another attempt to increase the realism, your engineer can suggest switching your strategy mid-race depending on how your grand prix is panning out. On the subject of tires, the new-for-2016 system of choosing an allocation of compounds before an event does feature in the game.

As well as looking to move a team up the grid, or earn a contract with front-runner (although you can start with any team you like), another new element to career mode is the ability to lose your drive if you underperform, with your agent then forced to find you a seat lower down the grid.

You also have a better chance of earning a drive with a team based on any affiliation your current employer may have with someone else on the grid, such as an engine supply deal.

NEW IN-RACE FEATURES

Several noticeable features have been added that affect the way a race pans out, with the most popular request being to include the safety car.

The virtual safety car rule has also been included, and the player's car during these phases of the race is under full manual control. In the case of VSC, a live delta update lets you know if you are going too fast or too slow.


 

Incidents and retirements for other cars will be more visible in the past, and will include troubled cars limping back to the pits to give players a better idea of what has caused a safety car period.

The formation lap has been introduced – described by Codemasters as the feature "no one saw coming" – allowing a player to manage tire and brake temperatures on their way to the grid. However, lining up in your grid slot is not manually controlled, with the computer taking over at the final corner of the lap.

The start system for players has been overhauled, giving the option to control the clutch and revs for a manual start. This system has also been applied to the AI cars, meaning the getaways of your rivals are more varied than before.

Other real-world features added to the game for 2016 include the ability to speed in the pits, the addition of the five-second time penalty, the introduction of wheel tethers in crashes and the use of pitboards.

The damage model has also been reworked, meaning if a player chooses to race with full damage settings, there are many more small pieces of debris that can fall off a car in a collision.

Live lap time delta information is now available in the same way it is for real F1 drivers, so if you make a mistake early in a qualifying lap you don't need to wait for the next timing sector to know how much you've blown it – allowing players to abandon a lap immediately, as is often seen in the real world.

Outside of career mode, players now have flexibility to choose the time of day to hold a race, with day races running any time from sunrise to sunset, and night races available from sunset to sunrise.

GAMEPLAY

With F1 2015's focus being on a new game engine and heavily revised handling and AI behavior, the changes in this area for F1 2016 are relatively small.

Codemasters has focused on refining an area of the series that was well-received last year - – with the aggressive AI from 2015 being improved in battle. This makes your opponents harder to overtake, often contesting a couple of corners side-by-side when you try to pass, and they are now capable of more legitimate, and realistic, overtaking moves when attacking.

When you are trying to pass an AI car, look out for subtle touches such as your rival trying to break the tow down the straights if you get too close. And, coupled with the manual starts feature mentioned earlier, the AI behavior into Turn 1 of a race has been refined, making it much harder for a player to make up several places in the first braking zone.

One of the main aspects of handling that has changed for "F1 2016" surrounds the wet-weather tires, which have been given a major physics overhaul – predominantly based around tire slip angle – to make driving in the rain feel significantly different to using slicks on a dry track.

Codemasters plans to have two "update windows" for the game post-release, allowing it to refine team performance, update tire allocations for late-season races, and potentially add any major car upgrades, as it did in 2015 with the new nose designs on the McLaren and the Force India.

F1 teams have been given the details of these update windows, and they will have the opportunity to submit any updates if they wish.

Originally on Autosport.com

 ONZ7118Maurizio Arrivabene has asked for his Ferrari Formula 1 team to be left alone to "work in peace" amid criticism for its disappointing performances and speculation over staff changes.

The Scuderia won three races last year and appeared to be closing on Mercedes but has so far failed to reach the top step in 11 attempts in 2016.

There was speculation about Kimi Raikkonen's future before he re-signed for the team while there have been other reports of Arrivabene's job being under threat and Vettel wanting to leave.

"Two months ago everyone was asking continued questions about Kimi and his future," said Arrivabene (pictured).

"After Kimi, it was my turn. Every day, every week and for the next few months, because [technical director James] Allison was [rumored to be] taking my job.

"We confirmed Kimi and now Vettel is leaving and most probably I'm going to take his job and then he's coming back to take mine... Let us work in peace, please."

MERCEDES CHASE WILL TAKE PATIENCE

Ferrari now trails Mercedes by 154 points in the constructors' championship and Red Bull has closed to just one point adrift of its second place. Raikkonen said Ferrari's focus remains on Mercedes but it must be patient in its chase of F1's pacesetter.

"We have areas that we know we have to improve as quickly as we can but races aren't easy places to [do the] fix," he said. "I felt like I had more speed than the Red Bulls in Hungary.

"I still believe that we have made big steps during the season. Some are not big enough but our aim is not [Red Bull], it's Mercedes and we'll keep fighting and trying to improve things and hopefully be in a position at some point where we want to be – that's in front.

"It will take a lot of work and patience and time and we will not give up. It's not our way."

 

Originally on Autosport.com

16IND1LW 2983At this point, it feels like piling on, but certain aspects of the Super Weekend at the Brickyard must to be addressed.

Actually, it's technically not the Super Weekend anymore, and hasn't been since sports cars left in 2014. But it wasn't really "super" to begin with unless it was used as a superlative – as in super-tedious, super-boring or super-redundant.

But first, let's establish that the Brickyard 400 itself will never consistently be an exciting race, at least, not in the traditional NASCAR sense. Differing pit strategies (like the one Team Penske tried to employ on Sunday) can sometimes provide intrigue, but the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval just isn't designed for 3,000 pound stock cars.

But that doesn't mean the weekend is without merit.

brick 400 editedThe Sprint Cup race, despite all of its flaws, should still be considered a Grand Slam on the NASCAR calendar. It's a race at the greatest speedway in the universe with winners joining the likes of A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears and Dale Earnhardt.

From a pure NASCAR standpoint, the Brickyard 400 could be viewed as the single greatest test of an organization on the calendar. With long straights and challenging corners, Indianapolis has become a show of who's built the fastest car over the course of the season.

Passing is at a premium and track position is hugely important, magnifying put stops and pit road decisions. Unlike a restrictor plate race, for example, one doesn't luck their way into the most hallowed Victory Lane in motorsports. The list of those whom have conquered this race largely reflect that notion.

And yet, all the admiration and reverence for this cathedral of speed wasn't enough to save it from the lowest attendance figures yet, estimated to be near 50,000 according to the Indianapolis Star and Sports Business Journal.

The Brickyard 400 isn't something that NASCAR can fix. The $30 million lights proposal isn't realistic, nor is moving the event to September to kick off the Chase for the Championship. But the entire weekend needs a dramatic overhaul, and with the main event likely to remain as is, that leaves the Indiana 250 Xfinity Race or whatever it was called on Saturday afternoon.

The current Brickyard weekend is a snapshot of what NASCAR has become at the highest levels, having consolidated all three national tours under a largely carbon-copied schedule. The July weekend at Indiana used to be a destination event for motorsports enthusiasts of all kinds, with USAC, ARCA, Trucks, Xfinity and Cup all running events across the region.

NASCAR had a great thing going at Lucas Oil Raceway, the track formerly known as Indianapolis Raceway Park, and the Truck and Busch Series was every bit the draw that the prestigious Brickyard 400 was. Be it NASCAR's desire to provide more content to IMS, TV's need to consolidate coverage or team's request for larger purses, the exodus from Raceway Park was a huge mistake.

While special, 400 miles around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is more than enough. The Xfinity Series race is redundant and actually takes away from the Sunday show. By providing an extra opportunity to kiss the bricks, NASCAR has established that anyone can feel like they've won the Brickyard 400, and it lessens the impact of actually winning the Big One at the end of the weekend.

Unfortunately, the Xfinity Series likely isn't leaving IMS anytime soon, but there is a reasonable compromise. If the race has to be run on the big track, run it on the road course used each May during the Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

lat lepage 150815 MidO 03186Road courses have become the new short tracks in NASCAR and it's become widely popular among the fan base. Replacing the current existing event with this road course concept would at least provide a much-needed spark to the weekend.

This way, the stars and cars of NASCAR's B series can remain on hallowed ground and the fans could be treated to a vastly different (and more exciting) race than the one everyone is currently subjected to. And perhaps IMS can even leverage their Indy 500 stars to participate to help draw the locals.

Imagine Alex Tagliani picking up his first NASCAR national touring victory for Team Penske or Graham Rahal finally crossing Xfinity off his personal bucket list at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The possibilities are endless and it's a much better show than the status quo.

Just don't let the winners of that race kiss the bricks. That's the worst.

THAW 514420Brian Alder's BAR 1 Motorsports PC team started off the season with a fine third at Daytona, but that January podium is beginning to feel like ancient history. The Ohio-based outfit has survived a rough season of WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition since Round 1 and to its relief, last weekend's race at Lime Rock finally put an end to a string of poor results.

Alder is now looking to build off that momentum with the return of a second BAR1 PC entry later in the year, and with the team fully committed to IMSA's Pro-Am prototype class, staying with two cars for in 2017 during PC's swansong is also in the works.

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"We're hopefully bringing back the second car for the final two races," Alder told RACER. "It isn't confirmed, but that's what we're working towards. We're going to stay with PC next year, looking to have two cars full time, and possibly something else, depending on what the series announces."

The "something else" is believed to be LMP3. IMSA is expected to announce its plans for the intro-level prototype during its stakeholders meeting at the Road America race weekend on Aug. 4-7 and, with BAR1's history in the IMSA Lites prototype training series, the addition of a LMP3 car to its stable would not be a surprise.

BAR1, like every PC team, will have a decision to make on where it will race after IMSA shutters the PC class at the end of 2017. Some are expected to move up to the WeatherTech Championship's top-tier Prototype category, while others are expected to continue in whatever IMSA series and car model the series picks to replace PC.

imsa 28761913"I think everybody has known for a long time that the PC lifespan is going to be over at the end of '17, so we may not know what car is going to replace it; but I don't think the costs or the change it will catch anybody by surprise," Alder said.

"And the series has been good at sticking with something new for four or five years so it helps amortize the costs and keeps the running costs reasonable. You might have more expense the first year with the new equipment and spares, but you can plan for it, and hopefully it's in the similar price range. It's important for the series to have a Pro-Am class that's stable and takes care of the teams that always come back – the privateers are the ones they can always count on."

With Alder waiting to learn where IMSA will take its Pro-Am prototypes in the future, his immediate focus is on earning BAR1's first PC win of 2016 with the season finale closing in.

"We feel like we have something good going in the second half of the season with Matt McMurry and Johnny Mowlem," he said. "We've had a crash or an off weekend and have just been trying to recover and regroup. We're hoping the last races of the year will be good for us and our crew has been pushing really hard to get another win. We still have a couple more races to get it done."

LeDuc P4 GH 2396 RSJA rough track catches out a few drivers, and helps the championship cause for a few...

Glen Helen Raceway is tricky and technical enough without throwing in a 30-degree-Fahrenheit difference between practice and qualifying. But that's what many of the racers were facing, with qualifying conducted in the heat of the afternoon – hovering around 110 degrees on Saturday – and racing happening after nightfall. Throw in some gnarly ruts that were forming in the turns, and a lot of the drivers were chasing their tails and struggling to keep the tires in on the ground.

"The track was really challenging," said Brian Deegan, back racing in Pro 2 for the first time since the Wild Horse Pass season opener, following his second-place finish on Saturday. "I think everyone came out here and tested, and I think the track threw everyone a curveball tonight, which is good – it's how racing should be. The track was so rough, you really had to pick lines."

The ruts may have even been a blessing for some. The man Deegan was chasing at the end, Rob MacCachren, was playing it conservative with a 41-point lead. But getting tossed to the outside put him in a position to take the lead from Carl Renezeder, an opportunity he quickly seized.

"I was just being cautious at the beginning of the race with Carl, then Bryce [Menzies] started getting close to me, and I knew I needed to go by," said MacCachren. "I don't know what happened ...I think I hit a rut, got on the outside of Carl, and ended up going by him."

Most of MacCachren's competition for the Pro 2 title fell by the wayside on Saturday night. Jeremy McGrath spun early; Renezeder rolled to a stop shortly after MacCachren passed him; and Menzies slid to a stop in the final turn with what looked like a locked-up drivetrain. He eventually got restarted and going again, but well down. So it was a good night for MacCachren's championship effort, especially considering he almost didn't make the race. The team discovered a pressure problem in the transmission torque converter, and changed the transmission in the No. 21 Rockstar Energy/Makita Tools Pro 2 in 25 minutes just prior to the race.

For Renezeder, it was the second time that night that he had a good start from pole, only to give it up. In Pro 4, he jumped out to the lead with MacCachren and Kyle LeDuc (pictured above) following. LeDuc made fairly quick work of MacCachren and set out in pursuit of Renezeder.

It seemed like LeDuc had nothing for him, as Renezeder opened up a gap in the beginning and on subsequent restarts. But following a late-race restart in a high-attrition race, LeDuc got the run he needed and passed Renezeder to take his third win of the season and third in the last four races in the No. 99 Monster Energy/Toyo Tires Pro 4. Renezeder finished second, keeping his solid lead in the championship, with Doug Fortin finishing third.

Beat PL GH 1438 RSJBoth Pro Lite and Pro Buggy featured flag-to-flag runs at the front, but both also featured a new face on the podium. In Pro Lite, Ryan Beat (pictured) took his second victory of the season in the Rockstar Energy/Lunarpages Pro Lite. But both of the racers that followed him were standing on the podium for the first time. Jeremy "Twitch" Stenberg was second, and rookie Ronnie Anderson was third. Darren Hardesty took his first Pro Buggy victory of the year in the Bilstein Shock Absorbers/Mickey Thompson Alumi Craft, with Taylor Atchison third in a race that featured an unusually large number of incidents. Bud Ward made his podium debut in second.

While Saturday night's Pro Buggy race had a lot of incidents for the usually well-behaved open-wheelers, Sunday night was completely off the rails. Mike Valentine jumped into the lead and began to pull away, but he would never have the luxury of keeping a gap for long, because numerous yellows closed the field.

An early battle for second between Sterling Cling and points leader Garrett George blazed before it turned ugly. George took second from Cling, but Cling came back a lap later and reclaimed the position. Then George attacked again, going to the inside of Cling in Turn 3. Cling turned down, made contact, and rolled. That left Valentine leading, followed by George and Hardesty.

Numerous other yellows followed, but it was the final one that played the biggest part in the race. On the final restart, Hardesty got into the back of Valentine exiting Turn 1, spinning him. Valentine, who had led the whole race to that point, watched the field go by. Hardesty earned a black flag for his role in the incident, while George limped to the finish with a flat tire. That left first-time winner Keaton Swayne, Sammy Ehrenberg and Jason Bates on the podium, all making the box for the first time.

The Pro Lite race also added more excitement than the previous night's show. Ryan Beat started on pole, but Jerret Brooks seized the lead at the start and looked headed to victory. But on the final lap, he drove in too hard on the rollers, ended up on the bike, and let Brandon Arthur in the Competitive Metals Pro Lite and Beat get by. Brooks ended up third with Arthur taking his third victory of the season.

With Saturday night winner and fast qualifier LeDuc starting Pro 4 up front, there wasn't likely to be any excitement at the top of the order. LeDuc jumped into the lead, followed by Renezeder. Most of the excitement in the race came from third qualifier Bryce Menzies, who fell back in the early stages and had to work his way back. First he had to find his way around MacCachren, then on a restart he made a big move past Doug Fortin for third. From there, he was all over the back of Renezeder, but couldn't make the pass happen and had to settle for third while LeDuc took his fourth win in five races.

Being in the lead in Pro 2 seemed like the kiss of death on Sunday night. Polesitter Menzies jumped into first at the start, but Brian Deegan, who started third, was attacking him by lap 2. he took the lead over the tabletop betweens Turns 4 and 5 on lap 3, but Menzies got him back in the whoops a lap later. Then Deegan was into the wall in Turn 4.

MacCachren P2 GH 2928 RSJMenzies was now followed by RJ Anderson, Myan Spacarelli, MacCachren (pictured) and Renezeder, but after the restart, Menzies limped to a stop in Turn 4 and left the track. Anderson inherited the lead, but MacCachren was charging hard, getting by Spacarelli and then taking the lead from Anderson with a bit of contact. Anderson then slowed, limping to the finish.

That left MacCachren padding his lead in Pro 2, while Spacarelli had his career best Pro 2 finish in the Tonka truck. Doug Mittag finished third with new sponsorship from ProAm Racing Products on board.

Before racing got underway on Saturday, the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series honored the victims of the Dec. 2 terrorist shooting in San Bernardino. In the "14 for 14" initiative, 14 drivers wore the name of one of the victims on their helmet and vehicle. The series also hosted many of the first responders from the incident, and announced a $5000 donation to the SBStrong GoFundMe campaign that raises money for the victims and their families.

The next rounds of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series take place at the dramatic Wild West Motorsports Park in Reno/Sparks, Nevada on Aug. 13-14.

ROUND 9 WINNERS:

Pro 4, Kyle LeDuc

Pro 2, Rob MacCachren

Pro Lite, Ryan Beat

Pro Buggy, Darren Hardesty

Mod Kart, Trey D. Gibbs

ROUND 10 WINNERS:

Pro 4, Kyle LeDuc

Pro 2, Rob MacCachren

Pro Lite, Brandon Arthur

Pro Buggy, Keaton Swayne

Mod Kart, Christopher Polvoorde

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