Grand Prix of St Petersburg recap.

Shawn Gritzmacher

The race was average at St Petersburg in my opinion. I didn’t really expect the race to go off without an issue, or the greatest Indycar race ever this weekend. After all, it was effectively a new formula after an exceptionally long off season.

The first race with the new Aero kits was as expected, quite caution heavy, with five full course cautions throughout the race, and if I’m honest, Indycar probably could of called one or two more for debris at times.

From the unveiling of the kits, the expectation was always present that due to the close racing style of Indycar and fragile looking winglets and flicks, that St pete would see alot of cautions, being a street circuit as the opening round. I think the amount of debris was somewhat more excessive than people perhaps imagined however.

Overall however, besides the debris caution, and a few odd on track incidents, including one between Simona De Silvestro and James Jakes, the race wasn’t that bad. The new aero packages continue to create strong racing, which is something that I had previously been concerned about. That may change as we go through the season but the new aero kit era is off to a good start from that perspective.

Admittedly Penske domination showed this weekend, with the team locking out positions 1-4 in qualifying, and then in the race coming home with a 1-2 finish, followed by Tony Kanaan for Ganassi in third. Chevrolet clearly also had the advantage this weekend over Honda, with the highest placed Honda, Ryan Hunter-Reay coming home in seventh.

My driver of the race, has to go to Montoya. Not only because he won, but also the turnaround in performance from when Montoya returned at St pete in 2014, compared to this weekend’s result. Maybe I had too high expectations on Montoya a year ago, but this was the St Petersburg race, I hoped from the CART champion and F1, NASCAR veteran twelve months ago.

The turning point really came at Pocono in July last year for Montoya, when his first Indycar win of this era came. Things really started to click together for Montoya after that and it all paid off yet again this weekend, after a strong battle with teammate Will Power.

Ultimately the race came down to one move, which Power misjudged and it ultimately cost him victory over Montoya, having to nurse the car abit after some contact with his Penske teammate, allowing for Montoya to escape to victory.

A tough weekend overall for the Andretti Autosport team saw the team collect a number of replacement front wings on pitroad and appeared abit off the pace compared to the Chevrolet powered rivals all weekend.

Meanwhile the highest placed rookie went to Gabby Chaves racing for BHA, who finished in 17th position, despite a drive-through penalty during the race.
All said and done, this wasn’t a great Indycar race. However overall I am happy with the progression made by the series. It followed through on it’s introduction of aero kits, Lap records have now been broken, that had stood from the champcar era, and Indycar media coverage had improved with practice and qualifying sessions shown online. whilst an impressive crowd at the venue, showed abit more strength for the series.

What thoughts do you have on yesterday’s opening Indycar race of 2015? Did it live up to expectations? Did you expect something more?

 

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@_canuck_

Hopefully a battle between Montoya and Power all season,will be some fireworks for sure.

Tom Firth

With some luck yeah, would like to see Ganassi get involved more closely throughout the season too, and I think other teams, including some from Honda may play a larger role as the season develops too. Wouldn’t rule out Andretti joining the front of the grid group, just yet.