Motorsport wouldn’t be what it is today without all the off-track drama. And this weekend, we’ve got plenty of bad-mouthing, grumping, and petty jabs running rampant before the racing has even gotten underway!
Valentino Rossi Is Very Mad At COTA
MotoGP star Valentino Rossi is racing at the Circuit of the Americas this weekend, but the Italian hasn’t had any praise for the Austin-based track. According to Motorsport.com, Rossi has pointed out that the track is even bumpier and dirtier than it had been reported being last year, despite the fact that the track employed diamond-grinder trucks to smooth out the surface. He identifies some of the biggest bumps in Turns 2, 10, and 18, as well as along the straight and in the braking zone.
It’s apparently moving into dangerous territory:
“It’s a disaster. For me it’s the worst situation during all the season. You have three or four bumps that are very big.
“With our bike it’s difficult, because you have a lot of bumps on the straight, so the bike moves very much at more than 300km/h and it’s a critical situation.”
And he’s not the only one to raise complaints. Cal Crutchlow, Aleix Espargaro, and Danilo Petrucci all have had equally scathing remarks, ranging from claiming that the track is “unacceptable” to urging for a resurfacing.
It’s not a good look for a circuit that’s no longer hosting IMSA or WEC and has had its fair share of financial struggles. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out over the weekend and how COTA will respond to the accusations.
Felipe Massa Strikes Back At Williams
It’s no secret that the Williams F1 team has taken some heat this season for its decision to employ Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin, two drivers who are very well known for basically being pretty inexperienced rich kids. Both drivers have tried to defend their performance, but after only scoring a single point in the first three races, it’s pretty obvious that the problem is, uh… them.
And former Williams driver has definitely had some Words about the state of the team, but in the politest, most Felipe Massa way possible:
“It’s true that the team was suffering from the financial situation and I think they made decisions for 2018 putting money first. But this is not enough to make a competitive championship. All I can say is that I came out with my head held high.”
That’s basically as close as you’ll ever hear Felipe get to criticizing Williams for choosing pay drivers over quality drivers. You gotta wonder if Williams is going to regret their choice at the end of the season if they keep this unfortunate trend going.
Guenther Steiner Still Has Nothing Good To Say About IndyCar
Back in January, Steiner was quoted saying that he didn’t think an IndyCar driver would be able to be successful in Formula 1. Agree or not, he’s back again with another hot take: according to Motorsport.com, Steiner doesn’t want F1 to “dumb down” like IndyCar.
Basically, that means he doesn’t believe F1 should aim to become a spec series. People have been comparing the number of overtakes in IndyCar’s first races at St. Pete and Phoenix to those at the F1 races in Australia and Bahrain with the frame that more passing = better racing = F1 should do what IndyCar does to make that work.
Steiner believes that F1 should represent the pinnacle of technology, so creating uniform chassis or engines for each team would basically kill off the sport. Instead of going in IndyCar’s direction, F1 should instead make their use of technology more informative and accessible to fans. They shouldn’t try to become a different series, he thinks, but instead work on improving F1 within the identifiable confines of what defines it as F1.
Which isn’t a half bad idea. It may not fix the racing, but it might help F1 fans understand the distinction between a power unit and an engine or at least give them an insight into why the hell some teams can absolutely kill it while others suffer away at the back of the grid.
NASCAR Drivers Are As Confused As We Are
As a very casual NASCAR fan, it feels like the series is changing up its direction and rules every season, which makes it kind of hard to follow if I just want to turn the TV on for a few hours.
Turns out, Jimmie Johnson knows it’s hard for fans because he’s confused, too. ESPN.com reports that he’s called the series “overwhelming”. He’s a member of the driver council, which means he’s pretty close to all the executive decisions being made about the future of the sport, but it’s been getting out of hand with all the massive overhauls taking place every season.
“To be on various councils and to think of things in such a big picture and in so many different ways and so frequently, that part when you’re sitting in two- to four-hour council meetings two or three times a month, that’s totally new. ... This isn’t typical driver responsibility.”
Other drivers, like Ricky Stenhouse Jr., have been talking about how NASCAR isn’t the same as it used to be, too. And while change in a racing series can be a good thing, there can also be way too much of a good thing—and NASCAR seems to be breaching that territory.