A number of Verizon IndyCar Series drivers had strong opinions and interesting insight following the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Here’s a selection of their comments.
On the restart that resulted in the collision between Jack Hawksworth and Marco Andretti:
Will Power: “Basically, the pace car pulls off and you can set the pace you want. I wasn’t even in the zone. We weren’t even in the zone that you have, the 200 yards or whatever it is, to decide for the leader to go when he wants. They actually threw the green before I was even in the zone, so it was confusing to me. So, the next restart I just went because I figured they’re going to throw the green anyway. To me, the only problem people would have had would have been if they gassed back to get a big run. That’s the only problem they should have had. I didn’t touch the brakes — did not touch the brakes. … The thing to me was Helio was getting out of line. That’s when I lifted off the throttle. Why are you getting out of line? Are you going to go like you did last year and jump-start completely and get the lead that way? I wasn’t going to let that happen. I wasn’t even in the zone, so it did not matter. He got out here, he’s going to do his thing, jump the start. He was getting out of line. I was going to make it obvious by lifting a little. Then I just went.”
Helio Castroneves: “I don’t have to see the restart. I know what happened. When I say wanker, he calls everybody a wanker. … Will and I have known each other for a long time. He know my tricks. I didn’t quite know that trick from him, and he got me, which is good. I’m not saying that in a bad way. He knew where I was going, so he did something that I was not expecting and it caught me by surprise. That does not take away anything from the win he did today. … Now I know when I’m restart behind him, I know what I need to do. One thing for sure — brake check, I did that in the past when I was young. He did what he had to do, but I was not expecting it. I always expect a little constant speed, and we did not have that. But the problem is — well, it’s not a problem, it’s competition. You just have to keep learning from your competitors. Today, I learned my lesson.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay: “I don’t know why. I just had a feeling after the pace car came off [Power] would stack up everybody, slow down to his own pace to get an advantage. I was expecting it. I guess Helio wasn’t. … When we had the double-file restarts there was that stack-up as well, but this is more dramatic because it’s single file, which is a longer line, and the restart point now is later than last year. So, that means when we get to that point cars are going to have to come around and especially the tail end of the field is going to be hustling to get up to the tail end of the line. When they get there, they have to get down to pace car speed or less. … The guys in the front need to not stack up the field as much and the guys in the back need to expect a stack-up. Those two things combined, we should iron those out pretty well. … In my opinion, the leader shouldn’t brake check or stop and then go. I didn’t see that being very intentional from Will that way. What I saw it was he kind of set his own pace at that time. It’s up for argument that maybe that was too slow. It definitely could have been too slow. It was very slow. I feel like the leader should accelerate when he needs to and set the pace he wants because he’s leading the race, but he needs to do it in a safe and predictable manner. We could argue if that was the case today. … A lift in first gear is very strong. It’s almost like hitting the brakes. He certainly stacked up Helio on the first one — that’s why I got a big run on Helio and passed Helio. The next one he just went. The next one was okay.”
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