FIRST IMPRESSIONS: São Paulo

First Impressions, IndyCar — By on April 29, 2012 4:49 pm
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STEPH’S IMPRESSIONS:

In point form and in no particular order:

- I wasn’t sure it was possible for a race in São Paulo to stay dry for its entire duration.

- This one looked a bit more like a mix of an endurance race and an obstacle course than an INDYCAR event. It was a shame to see so many driver brain fades after the three very professional-looking races that started the season. Let’s hope that’s not a trend — and it shouldn’t be since the track layout here does sort of lend itself to it more than most.

- Josef Newgarden just needs to shake off some rookie mistakes and bad luck. It won’t take him long afterward to become a star.

- Speaking of bad luck, if Justin Wilson didn’t have bad luck, he’d have no luck at all these days.

- Dario’s luck isn’t getting any better either, but he had a heck of a day to go from 2nd to the very back of the field and then back up to finish 5th.

- Speaking of epic position changes, it was great to see Taku start 25th and endure his own ups and downs to wind up on the podium.

- And finally, anyone who picked anyone but Will Power to win this race was out of his or her mind. He’s still the only driver to win on this course and has now won three in a row. It’s not quite time to award the championship, but it might not be long, now.

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PAUL’S IMPRESSIONS:

Well, how do I put this delicately?  Let’s just say this wasn’t a race that will be archived on the DVR so I can watch it over and over again.  I suppose even the best of street courses can produce a bit of a snoozer race from time to time.  I was actually looking forward to this race because it has been a really exciting and fun race to watch for the past two seasons.  This year, it just wasn’t to be.  That’s not to say, though, that I’m giving up on street courses or that I’m going to hold up this race as an example of how boring street races are.  It just wasn’t a race that held my attention very well.

The most prominent aspect of this race was the utter dominance of Will Power.  Again.  For the third year in a row Power captured the checkered flag, but this year he never even had a serious threat.  This race was pretty much over as soon as the green flag dropped, and unless his Chevrolet power plant had a glitch or he got punted on a restart, Power was in a league of his own.  At this point, I just don’t see how anyone catches Power through the rest of the year.  Unless Will completely bombs on the ovals over the next eight weeks, it seems to be a race for best in class already.

From a technical or strategic standpoint, I think this race highlighted that Firestone has some work to do with the street course tire they are bringing to the track this year.  We saw a great race in terms of tire strategy at Barber, but more work is necessary to make that drama transfer to the street circuits.  Even Firestone admitted as much after the Long Beach race, so maybe we will see a different compound in play starting at Detroit.  With the reduced fuel capacity, there just isn’t enough distance between pit stops to accentuate the difference in tire compounds, so the red alternate tires never have a chance to truly degrade.  INDYCAR needs to request that Firestone work to make a much great variance between the primary and alternate compounds, INDYCAR needs to dramatically increase the fuel tank capacity so that the tires actually have a chance to naturally degrade over a longer fuel window, or INDYCAR needs to eliminate the gimmicky two-tire strategy all together.  Currently, there seems to be almost no performance difference between the two tires, so continuing to force it upon the fans when it doesn’t play out on the track is silly and confusing.

Great races performances were had today by several drivers who may or may not get credit post-race because of their finishing positions.  Among those were Mike Conway, Ed Carpenter, Ana Beatriz, and of course third-place finisher Takuma Sato.

And now, bring on the Month of May!

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