There’s a lot of motorsport happening during any given weekend, so to catch you up, here’s what occurred the past few days in the world of competitive vrooms.
Formula 1: Spanish Grand Prix
The big story coming into the weekend was the replacement of Dany Kyvat at Red Bull by Max Verstappen. Did you know he’s 18-years-old? Well, he is.
Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg came into the weekend with the opportunity to win his eighth consecutive race but was outclassed by defending champion and musical artist, Lewis Hamilton in qualifying. Hamilton would start from pole ahead of Rosberg and the two Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Verstappen. Say, did you know Max Verstappen is 18-years-old? Well, he is.
Many people think Formula One is too predictable these days – even the Mercedes drivers, who decided to make the race’s outcome uncertain by taking each other out three corners into the Grand Prix. Opinion was split on who to blame, some seeing Rosberg as driving too defensive and others – including Niki Lauda – placing fault on Hamilton’s aggression. Many also viewed it as a pure racing incident, but it was unanimously agreed upon that it made the race a thousand times more interesting.
Ricciardo took the lead and from then on it became a strategic battle between him, his younger teammate, and the Ferrari duo of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen. Vettel and Ricciardo were faster most of the day, but both were placed on three stop strategies which left Verstappen to fend off Kimi.
The Australian was openly upset about the strategy call, which arguably cost him the race and relegated him to a fourth place finish and a game of “ping pong” with Vettel. Up front, the Ferrari could not find his way by Verstappen, who claimed a surprise victory and became the youngest winner in F1 history – displacing Sebastian Vettel, who he shared the podium with.
People are already calling him the next Schumacher, but I’m not as convinced yet. Man, 18-years-old, though. At 18, I was working fast food and crying every night. Believably, this is still what I’m doing at 20 (millennials love self-deprecating humor).
INDYCAR : Grand Prix of Indianapolis
It’s the month of May, which means the Indianapolis Cars are at… well, Indianapolis. Ah, yes – the Grand Prix of Indianapolis: a tradition older than Max Verstappen.
Simon Pagenaud was the in form driver coming into the event, winning the last two races and claiming the pole for Saturday’s race. It looked as though he was on his way to another easy victory, but the way the yellows fell made things a bit more complicated.
A safety car in the middle of the second round of green flag stops allowed the likes of Helio Castroneves and Conor Daly to jump to the front, as they had already completed their service. On the restart, Daly didn’t take much time in jumping the three-time Indy 500 winner for the race lead. He began pulling away and looked as though he could seriously challenge for the top step on the podium.
The final stops were decisive, with Pagenaud and Castroneves jumping back in front of Daly. The popular young American eventually fell to sixth, but it was an impressive outing for the Dale Coyne racer.
Pagenaud claimed his third win in a row and is the favorite heading into the 100th running of the big event in two weeks. Don’t think the championship is his yet, though. After the double points‘500' comes the most difficult part of any good Penske driver’s season: the ending (don’t throw fruit at me; I like Penske).
NASCAR Sprint Cup: Dover
In the end, it was Kyle Larson and Chase Elliot chasing Matt Kenseth to the checkered flag, but only after chaos rained down on other competitors.
Jimmie Johnson’s transmission failed on a restart with 53 laps to go, which is a bad thing, if you didn’t know. The field stacked up behind him and an 18-car melee followed, resulting in a red flag to clean up the mess. Along with Johnson, Kevin Harvick - who led most of the opening 100 laps - and Martin Truex Jr.- who did his fair share of leading through the day - were also collected.
Upon the restart, it was the JGR teammates of Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth leading the way, but the race had one more twist up its sleeve. Edwards’ car bobbled and left Larson with little time to react, sending the #19 into the wall.
Larson led 85 laps on the day and continued to spook Kenseth, but Elliot entered the battle pack and the fight for second intensified. Though they tried and got close, neither had enough in the end. Kenseth scored his first victory of the season.
A great win for the success starved Joe Gibbs Racing, who have only won nine of the first 12 races in 2016.
Blancpain Endurance Series - Silverstone
The second round of the 2016 Blancpain Endurance Series campaign went down to the wire as Maximillian Buhk held off the WRT Audi of Laurens Vanthoor to win by just under a second. HTP Motorsport not only celebrated victory with Buhk, Dominik Baumann, and Jazmeen Jaafar, but also the new points lead.
GP2 – Spain
In Saturday’s opener, Sergey Sirotkin brought out a late race safety car when his car stalled on track following a spin and the leaders took the opportunity to pit. The opening race became time certain, forcing Norman Nato into action as he overtook Pierre Gasly for the win, insuring that he would not be replacing Dany Kyvat immediately.
The sprint race was a bit more straight forward, with Alex Lynn taking the lead early and never looking back.
GP3 – Spain
ART GP’s Charles Leclerc and Alexander Albon flew off the start lines to win races one and two of the GP3 season, respectively.
NASCAR Infinity Series - Dover
First off, yes I know it’s “Xfinity,” but Roger Penske always says “Infinity” and the Captain is never wrong.
It was Joe Gibbs’ day in the Infinity series, too – with Erik Jones notching up the win and the $100,000 in the Dash 4 Cash (this sounds like some sort of scam).
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series – Dover
Daniel Suarez gave it everything he had but it was Matt Crafton who took the checkered flag in the 200-mile event at Dover.
That does it for the week. Next weekend, we’ll see qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, MotoGP in Italy, touring car action in Germany and Australia, the GRC season opener, Formula E in Berlin, and the NASCAR All-Star race with its 1,693,841,128th different format since its inception.
(cover image supplied by Formula 1's Twitter feed)
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