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Thursday, November 30, 2023

A easy answer to the IndyCar quandary of two ex-F1 racers

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Romain Grosjean – a 10-time podium finisher in Method 1 – was anticipated to excel when he switched to Andretti Autosport final 12 months. He had proven nice promise with minnow group Dale Coyne Racing after crossing the Atlantic in 2021. However he lies thirteenth in factors proper now, precisely the place he ended up in final 12 months’s standings – not what he nor group proprietor Michael Andretti signed up for.

Additionally, the very fact he scored as many podiums in his maiden season with Coyne (when he wasn’t doing a lot of the ovals) as he has in a single and a half seasons with the powerhouse of Andretti makes for uncomfortable studying too.

Two poles this 12 months, nevertheless, have proven the velocity is there – and back-to-back runner-up finishes at Lengthy Seashore and Barber regarded a surefire certainty for a contract extension. Since then, there have been three crashes and two very messy weekends in Street America and Mid-Ohio, tracks the place you’d count on him to be operating proper on the entrance.

His newest race exit, when the steering wheel whipped out of his fingers over the bumps at Toronto, despatched him into the wall as soon as once more.

“Once I was coming round that flip I simply misplaced the steering wheel,” he rued. “It was a troublesome dealing with restoration to make, and I misplaced the steering wheel in an try and manoeuver it.”

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He added: “We’ll simply have to maneuver ahead from right here and concentrate on the following one” – a remark that you might reduce and paste on a lot of his post-race feedback this 12 months.

Marcus Ericsson’s scenario is vastly completely different, although he’s coming off his two worst finishes of the 12 months.

Grosjean’s time at Andretti Autosport hasn’t yielded the hoped-for outcomes

Photograph by: Phillip Abbott / Motorsport Images

He joined Chip Ganassi Racing in 2020 with backing from Huski Chocolate. That relationship blossomed with victory on the Indianapolis 500 victory final 12 months and is backed up by two consecutive top-six IndyCar Championship finishes, and a detailed runner-up end at Indy to Josef Newgarden this season. He additionally gained the 2023 season opener at St Petersburg.

However so-called ‘pay driver’ Ericsson believes it’s time for him to be supplied the sort of wage that the opposite frontrunners get pleasure from, relatively than his nominal fee that’s greater than offset by the backing he brings by way of Swedish billionaire Finn Rausing. Ganassi, though publicly glowing about Ericsson’s capacity, has to make his numbers add up – and Rausing’s monetary assist has been a robust asset – so you possibly can see why he desires that to proceed.

“I wish to be handled as a prime driver as a result of that’s what I’m on this sequence,” mentioned Ericsson. “It’s the place I wanna be and hopefully we’ll get to that time with Ganassi. I really feel like I deserve that.”

One will get the sensation that the IndyCar driver merry-go-round would possibly begin to spin wildly subsequent month, as contractual home windows open up with some rarely-available prime rides going spare

As we’ve previously reported, Ericsson vented to NBC’s Kevin Lee at Street America: “It seems like we’re a fairly a methods away. I see issues a method. The group thinks that I ought to pay to be there and I really feel like I ought to receives a commission.

“I’m pissed off. There are no less than 15 drivers that do not convey a finances — and I might wish to assume I’m a type of with the efficiency — however the group thinks in any other case. In order that’s why we’re fairly far aside. I’ve tried to play good and make it clear I wish to keep right here. I do not perceive and it is irritating.”

Ganassi’s scenario is additional difficult by the chance of its celebrity Alex Palou switching to Arrow McLaren subsequent 12 months – lured away by the promise of an F1 future – so can it afford to lose two of its prime performers?

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The answer? They merely commerce locations. In Ericsson, Andretti Autosport would get a confirmed performer with a wonderful Indy 500 report, a race that Michael Andretti is hellbent on profitable once more as a group proprietor, having by no means achieved in order a driver. Assuming he retains DHL, which has been a longtime associate, he can afford to satisfy Ericsson’s wage calls for.

And final, however not least, he’d weaken a rival group – each from a driver lineup and monetary standpoint. Additionally, would possibly he not have the ability to tempt an invested Rausing again into the F1 paddock together with his new challenge, if he will get an entry?

Would Andretti be able to entice Ericsson from Ganassi?

Would Andretti have the ability to entice Ericsson from Ganassi?

Photograph by: Geoffrey M. Miller / Motorsport Images

Ganassi would due to this fact want a driver with race-winning potential and excessive profile to proceed to fulfill its advantageous roster of sponsor companions. In Grosjean, it will get simply that. It’s an anomaly that he hasn’t but gained an IndyCar race but, and lots of a group proprietor down the years is aware of that when it will get a contented (and calm) Grosjean, it will get the very best out of him.

Inheriting Ericsson’s #8 automotive would imply teaming up together with his ace engineer Brad Goldberg, who shaped a giant brother/greatest friend-style relationship with the Swede. An alternative choice can be to offer Grosjean the championship-winning #10 journey that may undoubtedly encourage his mojo, and a change is nearly as good as a relaxation.

On that automotive, Barry Wanser might be the calmest strategist and group supervisor within the paddock, and engineer Julian Robertson appears to have the ability to magic an A-game automotive on any (and each) given race weekend. Both possibility would possible give Grosjean big confidence on ovals, too. 

After all, this being IndyCar, there’s an opportunity that both of them might win in Iowa this weekend – and with it being a double-header, each would possibly! One will get the sensation that the IndyCar driver merry-go-round would possibly begin to spin wildly subsequent month, as contractual home windows open up with some rarely-available prime rides going spare.

The actual fact is that each of those ex-F1 racers must be sitting down someplace that fits them when the music stops…

Grosjean and Ericsson could be key players in IndyCar's silly season merry-go-round

Grosjean and Ericsson might be key gamers in IndyCar’s foolish season merry-go-round

Photograph by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

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