IndyCar: Herta wins crazy Indianapolis GP

IndyCar: Herta wins a GP (...)

After a fine pole position for Will Power, ahead of Alex Palou, Josef Newgarden, Conor Daly, Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist, the race had to be postponed due to thunderstorms at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. At the start, the track was very wet off the line, and rain threatened for the rest of the race.

The start went smoothly, and Power kept the advantage ahead of Palou and Newgarden, but the Spaniard passed. Newgarden got past Power but both Penskes slowed down and that benefited O’Ward, who moved up to second.

The McLaren drivers then had a festival, with O’Ward overtaking Palou for the command of the event, then a rise by Felix Rosenqvist to second place.

But these two leading positions did not last for the McLaren team, as the track dried up. Herta was among the first to stop, and O’Ward limited him on the next lap. They were the most inspired, even though the track was still cold and slightly wet.

A first neutralization intervened quickly

We saw Herta narrowly miss an accident, before seeing Palou go off the track. After a difficult comeback on the asphalt, he stalled and had to be restarted. This caused the race’s first neutralization.

Herta was in the lead ahead of O’Ward, Rosenqvist, Power, Daly, Newgarden, Takuma Sato, Alexander Rossi, Scott McLaughlin and Romain Grosjean. Simon Pagenaud was 13th, two places ahead of Scott Dixon.

The race was restarted on the tenth of the 85 laps, and O’Ward immediately showed great pressure in the mirrors of Herta. At the back of the peloton, Palou was one lap behind the leaders, and he was the big loser at the start of the race.

Herta then took off, but the race was neutralized a second time after a collision between Newgarden and Jack Harvey sent the Penske driver spinning with two punctures.

The race resumed on the twentieth of the 85 laps, and Sato launched an attack on Power to take fourth place. Behind, VeeKay left the track and, on returning to it, was hit by Devlin DeFrancesco. The flat bottom of the Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara was badly damaged, and the race was neutralized.

An intractable Herta in the lead

Herta quickly widened a gap on the restart, ahead of the McLarens of O’Ward and Rosenqvist. Sato was a solid fourth ahead of Power, but Harvey passed the latter on lap 31. The Aussie struggled and saw Rossi overtake, while behind Grosjean and Pagenaud were eighth and ninth.

Herta stopped early, as did Sato and McLaughlin, for this second round of saves. The rest of the field followed, and it was Rosenqvist who best managed his entry lap and his follow-up lap among the leaders.

Indeed, Herta managed to narrowly overtake him, and the Swede managed to emerge ahead of his teammate O’Ward. Behind, Dalton Kellett came off the track while Dixon entered the pits in slow motion. The race was neutralized.

Marcus Ericsson and Kyle Kirkwood were in the lead, but didn’t stop, ahead of Herta, Rosenqvist and O’Ward. Harvey, Sato, McLaughlin, Grosjean and Power followed in the top 10. Pagenaud and Rossi were virtually in the top 10 once the saves from Ericsson and Kirkwood were made.

The return of the rain during a neutralization

Several drivers stopped putting on tires for the rain… which came back during the neutralization! On the restart, Ericsson and Kirkwood kept the best positions, but chaos came behind.

O’Ward attacked Rosenqvist and then Herta, but he hit the Andretti car and spun. Unfortunately, the only driver who couldn’t avoid it was Rosenqvist, his teammate, and the two drivers were off with a collision, which sent Rosenqvist back to the bottom of the classification.

Rossi, Graham Rahal, Jimmie Johnson, David Malukas, Palou and DeFrancesco had decided to put on the tires for the rain, but the track was not yet noticeably wet, and the deterioration of the tires promised to be high.

The race therefore experienced a new neutralization, which clearly suited Ericsson and Kirkwood, who had one pit stop less than their competitors, and could foresee a possible arrival of rain.

Ericsson in the lead in the rain

Kirkwood stopped to put on tires for the rain, but not Ericsson who kept the lead on the restart. But as the first round went on, he finally had to give in to Herta, McLaughlin, Harvey and Grosjean.

With the rain and the precarious conditions, the errors multiplied on the track, in particular on the side of Harvey, who sent Grosjean spinning, while Pagenaud took the opportunity to take third place.

Herta and McLaughlin were still in the lead ahead of the Frenchman, and O’Ward moved up to fourth after his blunder and then moved into third. Juan Pablo Montoya, freelancer for McLaren, had climbed back into the top 10 when a neutralization came after a spin from Johnson.

Despite the approaching rain and the cold and slightly damp track, all the drivers switched back to slick tyres. VeeKay spun during the neutralization, as did Rahal, showing that the conditions were dire.

But this completely crazy race was not close to a twist, since the rain redoubled, and most of the pilots entered to change tires. Only McLaughlin, O’Ward and Grosjean kept tires for the dry.

An end of the race at the remaining time

As for the pilots on rain tyres, the first was Herta ahead of Pagenaud, Power, Harvey, Daly, Helio Castroneves and Montoya, before a final that promised to be explosive! As the two-hour limit approached, the 18-minute countdown was on.

McLaughlin spun while in the lead, leaving O’Ward in charge for the restart, while Grosjean fell back to sixth under the safety car as well.

The track was now sodden, and O’Ward’s slicks couldn’t compete against Herta’s. McLaughlin spun again, sending three riders into the grass. And the race was again neutralized with 13 minutes remaining, leaving Herta, O’Ward and Pagenaud in the lead. Grosjean had left the top 10.

O’Ward spun and was able to start fourth, leaving Herta, Pagenaud and Power in the lead. The race was restarted just over six minutes from time. O’Ward returned to the pits despite the short time remaining.

Herta immediately widened the gap with a two-second lead over Pagenaud, but above all 6.5 over Power and nine seconds over Daly! Behind the latter, Ericsson took fifth place from Montoya, while Rosenqvist came back to eighth behind Sato.

Herta made a mistake but managed to keep a 3″8 gap on Pagenaud, thanks to a pace far superior to that of their main rival. Behind, Ericsson took fourth place, while Rosenqvist returned to sixth place The Swede could harbor regrets after his teammate’s mistake.

The race was finally neutralized one last time after Montoya crashed in the oval part. There were less than two minutes to go when the race went under yellow flag status.

Herta won ahead of Pagenaud, who signed his best result with the Meyer Shank team. Poleman of the race, Power finished on the podium ahead of Ericsson, Daly and Rosenqvist.

Callum Ilott took a very good seventh place ahead of Sato and Christian Lundgaard, who broke his car at the finish line. Dixon signs an unexpected top 10, after long pointing at one lap.

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