The 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series season is now in full swing with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg now in the books. Below are the More Front Wing crew’s first impressions of the opening event of the year. Please join the fun and add your own in the comments section below!
Unremarkable. That’s my first impression of today’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. For the most part, the race mostly played out like a lot of typical street races of days gone by with one driver leading early and another dominating after the first pit stop. Overall, it didn’t seem like there was too much excitement to behold. At least on TV, the race came across as mostly follow-the-lead with a couple nice passes very sporadically placed throughout the race. Sustained battles and big movers were hard to find. Nice run kudos to Josef Newgarden, whom I called out last week as being the driver most likely to have a disappointing season. Rookie Jack Hawksworth also had a nice race before being a victim of the botched mid-race restart.
From where I sat trackside, I thought this was not a great race but certainly a good race and a solid opening to the season. I’m fully aware that my vantage point may have influenced this opinion, but for the portion of the race where I was inside I felt that the impressions I was pulling were being matched in response level by the television broadcast (a most welcome change). There wasn’t a whole lot of on-track passing, but between The Restart and the other first applications of some of the new rules we should have plenty of stories and momentum to carry us for the next couple of weeks, which is the important thing. Overall, I’d say it’s fair to give this one a solid 7/10 and start looking forward to landing in Long Beach in a couple of weeks. Apart from The Restart, what I’m intrigued by most is seeing Power so strong out of the gate, and I’m already wondering if we’re going to see him run away with the season. On the flip side, I’m gutted for Conway and Ed Carpenter Racing who struggled all weekend and then looked very strong in the race only to be undone by a miscommunication. Onward to the West Coast!
This was a pretty uneventful season opener save for Will Power’s restart zone “controversy” (or stack-up depending on your point of view). Takuma Sato seemed untouchable early and then quietly drifted back into the field. Mike Conway showed the pace most expect from ECR before a pit miscommunication doomed his race. Juan Pablo Montoya was a non-factor in his first race back, but Jack Hawksworth showed that he has the pace to be real deal before being caught up in the restart carnage. I’ve got my popcorn ready to hear what the drivers have to say about today’s wreck now that they have their beloved single-file restarts back. Be careful what you wish for…!
It wasn’t a carnage-fest like St. Pete can be and there were some impressive runs (Mike Conway was picking ‘em off like a sniper mid-race), but this certainly wasn’t a thriller to start the season. Takuma Sato winning pole and leading is nice, but it’s no longer a big surprise. Neither is Will Power winning on a twisty circuit. So, from the results to the action (or lack thereof), this wasn’t a race to remember. The upside is that everyone gets to pack up relatively unscathed and head to Long Beach.