TORONTO, Ontario — With all the mistakes made by drivers through practice, there were concerns about incidents forth coming once the Honda Indy Toronto went green. However, that was not the case.
There were a pair of yellow flags, but they occurred on the first lap and final lap. But the 82 laps that took place between those two points, there were no cautions displayed. There were a couple on-track incidents, including spins by Sebastian Bourdais and Spencer Pigot and a fire for Takuma Sato, but all of those were contained without further issue.
The lack of cautions was a big contrast, considering the amount of yellow flags displayed through practice. Team Penske teammates Josef Newgarden and Will Power both spun off of final corner in first session, with Alexander Rossi experiencing wall contact and a spin in the second. On average, there were two to three cautions each practice due to the ever-changing, tight conditions of the Honda Indy Toronto.
A couple yellow flags would have been beneficial for drivers like James Hinchcliffe to change up their strategy and possibly gain more ground than he was able to under the green flag conditions. Despite no cautions, the hometown hero turned a 14th-place starting position to a sixth-place finish.
“I think the quality of driver in the (NTT) IndyCar Series has gotten so high the last few seasons, we’ve seen a lot of races go essentially caution-free,” he told media post-race. “It shows the quality of driver, even the guys that had mistakes were able to recover from them. (Sebastien) Bourdais got himself out of the tires, Spencer made it back to the pits. Fans want to see racing. They don’t want to see caution periods.
“For a track that is notorious for having a lot of incidents, I’m impressed with the field. One or two may have helped us getting a spot or two. Race control made an active effort to keep it green as much as possible. I think all the drivers are just doing a better job.”
The lack of cautions did not take away from the action on-track, with the battle for the win close at the end between Simon Pagenaud and Scott Dixon as they weaved through lap traffic. They were also some passes through the back half of the field during the event, too.
Though for the most part, it was one of the more quieter events of the season for the NTT IndyCar Series with the field mostly strung out single-file through the event.
While the Toronto circuit is tight in it’s nature due to being a street course, Hinchcliffe also attributed the lack of passing to the closeness of competition.
“As far as the passing goes, I think passing everywhere is difficult just because the level of competition is so high and the gap between drivers is so small. I don’t know if it’s any harder or easier to pass a car,” he commented. “That would be the same lap time delta as a year ago. I just think the lap time delta car to car is smaller. Everybody is getting better, the teams are getting better. Second year with this body kit, everybody is figuring things out a little more. I think it speaks to the level of the competitiveness in the series.”
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Categories: Interview, NTT IndyCar Series
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