2019 Racing Season

Racing, Red Bull, and The Inner Workings Of The Mind

The combination of information overload, caffeine and exercise can create interesting dialogue in one’s mind.  Today on a 45 min trail run I couldn’t control the inner buzzard voice in my head that is a constant traveling companion of mine, so I’m feeling the need to let this voice be heard. I believe in the psychology field this is known as a brain dump.  So, I’m excited to dump a few random thoughts on the subject of motorsports.


What If?  Ahh yes what if?  These two words can be applied to everything in life, but what if Leclerc won Bahrain, Vettel was allowed to keep his win in Canada, Ferrari didn’t undercut Leclerc in Singapore with Vettel, and Vettel didn’t break down in Russia last week, leaving Ferrari to finish 1-2 with Leclerc getting the win??  That’s a serious (and realistic) WHAT IF!  


In this alternate world, we would be looking at Lewis with 6 wins, Leclerc with 5 wins, Mercedes with 8 wins, Ferrari with 6 wins, the momentum squarely with Ferrari and the excitement levels through the roof. Oh well next year.  And to be fair, Lewis has had his share of bad breaks over the years so I guess this levels things out a bit. I think you can make a pretty convincing case that he should have beat Nico in 2016 and Kimi (and Alonso) in 2007.


Did anybody see Big Daddy Jos The Boss (aka The Dutch Devil) speak out in a threatening tone against Red Bull this past week?  His boy Max only has one year left on his contract with Red Bull so the rumors should be swirling in the Dutch press rivaling the circus of a LeBron or KD free agency.  In fact what moves the world sporting needle more, Max or Giannis heading into contract years? It is sort of criminal to see Max, a once in a generation talent at the peak of his powers, fighting for 3rd.  Will Ferrari or Mercedes have the nerve to make a serious run at creating a Super Team? What sounds more fun, Max/Leclerc or Max/Lewis? I’ll take either but the thought of Max in red is cool.  


Speaking of Red Bull, here is a random flashback:  The last time I tasted a Red Bull was about 9 years ago on a Las Vegas 40th birthday boondoggle for an old college buddy.  It was night two and the group was dragging, so we turned to the dreaded Red Bull/Vodka for assistance. We had paid some silly cover to get into the “exclusive” club at the top of the Palms, and the guest of honor that evening was Pittsburgh Steeler Hines Ward.  It felt a little weird standing around gawking at Hines and his entourage, but the MC was playing it up and the women were jockeying for position. When it came time for me to buy the next round, I excused myself from a conversation with a Russian prostitute and made my way into the scrum at the bar.  The bartenders had more tricks than Tom Cruise in Cocktail and magically produced 6 Red Bull/vodkas in pint glasses in mere seconds. I was a little shocked when I was charged $180, but hey I was supporting Red Bull and Toro Roso, the Maloof Brothers and getting to spend time with Hines Ward so it seemed like a good deal at the time. 


Red Bull Flashback II:  This almost has the makings of a great joke:  What do you get when you put three guys in a room with a bobcat named Alesi and two pallets of Red Bull?  Answer: Complete monkey business. Inspired by the sponsorship on the ‘95 Sauber, my friend Tommy was able to import a few cases of Red Bull from Austria before it was available in the markets and in honor of Heinz Harald Frentzen, we grew our sideburns and drank Red Bull like it was water for a few weeks.  Nobody died.


Quiz:  Name the energy drink company that sponsored Jos Verstappen when he drove for Arrows. (See answer below)


Back to Current Red Bull F1:  Albon, like Gasly, is miles behind Max on pure pace but he’s been able to get the car to 6th place in his four race trial with forceful passes on the slower midfield cars.  The frustrating thing with Gasly was when he would find himself behind a Renault or McLaren, he seldom found a way by. Advantage Albon. 


F1.5:  The midfield really is war.  It reminds me of Indycar in that even if you are generally quicker, like McLaren and Renault have shown of late, you just get sucked back into the chaos on a weekly basis.  Danny Ric looks like a rodeo cowboy trying to fight his way through the field and is testing the structural integrity of his wings and suspension on per lap basis. It’s brutal and fascinating all at once.


Current win totals:

Sainz – 5

Norris – 3

Ricciardo – 3

Perez – 2

Magnussen – 2

Kyvat – 1


On the subject of Indycar, I enjoyed another excellent year of tough racing on every type of circuit imaginable.  The rookies, Felix, Herta, Santino and to a lesser extent, O’Ward and Ericcson, certainly infused some excitement and should give the established pecking order a few fits next year.


Herta has the speed to wrest control of Andretti Autosport from Rossi next year if he has an engineer to work with on the ovals and a strategist and pit crew to execute on race day.  His drive at Laguna was a masterclass.


Rosenqvist is all car control and big cajones.  Mid Ohio and Laguna stand out as races where he had the car in a slide practically every corner and managed to keep it off the wall.  If he can calm his inner Nordic maniac over the bumps on street tracks and continue to adapt to the ovals, he should be there with Dixon fighting for the title.


Santino!  I thought Santino was going to be a flop and wow was I surprised.  He’s got something special on the ovals as he can run half a groove higher and make audacious passes around the outside.  I have to admit though that he scares me. It’s awesome to see him flat foot it through the accidents in front of him and go wild on the first lap of restarts, but the law of averages tells me that it’s going to come back to bite him at some point.  I feel like he’s going to need to learn respect the hard way, but what a fun addition to the grid.  


Felix ended up 6th in points and Herta 7th.  To take the next step forward means beating a Penske, Rossi or Dixon so I can’t wait to see if these kids are ready to go to that level.  


With the new kids showing they can get it done if given the chance, I’ve got the following guys in the “Aren’t you getting a bit old to be doing this?” category:  TK, Bourdais, Sato, RHR, Carpenter. I was almost thinking that Power was ready for this list but he closed the year in strong form.


And here are the guys in my “Maybe this isn’t the right job for you?” category:  Ed Jones, Marco and Veach. I’m holding off on Leist for now because he’s driving for Foyt, The Williams of the paddock.  

Random thoughts:  It’s too bad FE is sucking up most of the single seater talent outside of F1 because Indycar would have really benefited.  I’m still waiting to see the day when an F1 driver in his prime switches to the silent cars…..It was sad to see O’Ward get plucked by Red Bull and banished to Japan to compete in SuperFormula.  Remember he handily beat Herta in the same Indy Lights squad and was quicker out of the box at Sears last year when they were both in Harding/Andretti equipment……Playing the role of O’Ward and Herta in Indy Lights this year were Askew and Vee Kay.  They appear ready for the next level and one step on the ladder below is Kyle Kirkwood. This kid wins something like 75% of his races and I was super impressed with the way he handled the first lap of the Festival chicane in Portland last year in F2000.  Smooth operator with spatial awareness. I’d sign him to my junior team…..Spare a thought for Ralph Schumacher, who was being touted as a possible 2020 Ferrari driver but now is languishing 12th in points in F2. Sadly he’s still ahead of Giuliano Alesi, son of the greatest driver ever…….In what could be a major coup for F1, Chinese driver Guanyu Zhou looks like he’s a legit professional driver and could probably pound around in the mid field without making a fool of himself.  Where is Bernie to collect the $$?…….IMSA is down to the final race and it’s old man Montoya going for yet another title over the likes of Sud American youngsters Felipe Nasr and Pipo Derani. Great little undercover series as usual……I’ve seen Montoya and son in the garage at many GP’s this year. It looks like JPM is trying to take a page out of Verstappen’s playbook and create a 21st century robo driver. Another familiar name at Laguna a few weeks ago was Eduardo Barrichello.  The son of Rubens was racing in the F2000 race and slugging it out in the lead pack…….What can one say about Marc Marquez other than we are witnessing all time greatness…….Spare a thought for ‘Ol 7-Time (Jimmy Johnson) as his reign appears to be over. My favorite highlight is still when he crashed a Busch car head on at the Glen after brake failure at a silly rate of speed and got out, stood on the hood and raised his arms.    ……And I think that’s it for my rambling.  Sure I could do this for another 5,000 words but I feel like the therapeutic benefit of dumping my thoughts is losing its effectiveness.  Good fun. Bring on the mighty Suzuka. Thanks for reading!