1. Kubica on the road to recovery
2. IndyCar inconsistent on inconsistencies
1. Kubica should know by August if he can race F1 again
The good news today is that Renault Formula One driver Robert Kubica was discharged from hospital in Italy on Sunday, just short of three months after he was nearly killed in a rallying accident in early February.
The not-so-good news (as distinct from "bad" news) is that the jury is still way out on whether Kubica will ever be able to resume his F1 career.
Although understandable when it first happened, the word "if" continues to be used in any statement concerning Kubica’s ability to, a) get into an F1 car again and, b) drive it competitively.
The Polish driver, winner of the 2008 Grand Prix of Canada (a year after surviving a horrendous accident at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve that still has veteran race-watchers shaking their heads at the memory), was driving in a fun rally in Italy when he lost control of his car and hit the end of a fence, the armco piercing the front of the car.
He suffered multiple fractures; his right hand was nearly severed.
The plan at the moment is for him to go home and rest up from his hospital stay. He will then report to a rehab facility in Italy to embark on a comprehensive program to regain the use of his hand. He’ll also start light physical training.
An answer to the question of whether he will ever race in F1 again is expected by August.
2. IndyCar walking a tightrope on penalties
When a referee issues a penalty in the NHL, or one in the NFL/CFL, all they have to do is cite the infraction and the length of time, or penalty yards, to be served(two minutes for holding, 15 yards for unnecessary roughness). They don’t have to explain their decisions.
If the infraction is sufficiently serious, the league can take further action and suspend the athlete for one game or 10. Nobody has to explain how that decision was reached.
Fans can scream bloody murder about the lousy officiating all they want. Their opinions matter not.
Which means the IndyCar series officials are treading on dangerous ground every time they go public with an explanation of why something was called, or not called.
The league found itself in a tight spot last year when Helio Castroneves had victory stolen from him in Edmonton when it was determined that he had blocked Scott Dixon on a restart late in the race.
The fact that there was no block should not have been of consequence. The call was made, right or wrong, and in this particular case it was wrong.
But instead of clamming up and letting people (like me) stew, IndyCar went to great pains to explain what Castroneves had done wrong. It just made matters worse because their convaluted excuse for calling the penalty has people (like me) now watching them like a hawk. The next time somebody does what Castroneves is alleged to have done, it will be documented (I can hardly for the Toronto race) and the IndyCar series will be made to look dumb, if not worse.
Now they’ve done it again. The sent Al Unser Jr. out last week to talk to certain select reporters to try to explain the unexplainable: how Castroneves drove like a battering ram through the field at the Grand Prix of Long Beach, hitting Justin Wilson and Will Power and ruining both their races. For this, he was let off scott-free.
Paul Tracy, meantime, returned to the series and hit Simona De Silvestor enough to spin her out and was immediately sent to the back of the pack as punishment.
Now, anybody with a brain knows that Tracy has been pigeon-holed, labelled, targeted - whatever you want to call it - by race officials everywhere. His nickname is the "chrome horn." He’s also crashed about a million times during his career. So if he’s in a collison of any kind, any where, I guarantee you that the officials will immediately rule it was his fault, whether it was or not.
Castroneves, on the other hand, has not be known to be a rough racer and so – with the glaring exception of Edmonton – has usually been given a break or. in the case of Long Beach, breaks.
It’s the way it is, in the world of racing as well as the real world: certain people are deemed to be troublemakers, whether they are or not, and others aren’t, even when they are. We’ve all been to school at one time or other in our lives. You know what I’m saying.
But because of a fan uproar over what many saw as inconsistencies in the Long Beach officiating, the IndyCar people dispatched Unser Jr. to explain the reasons and they didn’t make much more sense than the explanation of blocking that was made last July in Edmonton.
I’m not going to go into what Unser says IndyCar officials consider avoidable contact and/or unavoidable contact because, at the end of the day, there are other currents at work (see my paragraphs above about labelling).
And there are also little nuggets like - well, chew on this, courtesy of Al Unser Jr.
". . . we figured [since] it had to do with his teammate (when Castroneves clobbered Power), maybe Roger (Penske) would have more influence on Helio in the races to come. More so than we would have with [giving him] a drive-through penalty."
As I said at the beginning, they should call the penalties and then just keep their mouths shut. Because every time they start talking, they just make matters worse.
ALMS Champion Simon Pagenaud will drive in this year's Indianapolis 500 for his sports car team, Highcroft Racing, which is gearing up to switch to the IndyCar Series in the next season or two. The Indy announcement will be made later this week.
Stock car racer J.R. Fitzpatrick of Cambridge was featured in an article in the Saturday Star. See the post below for a report on how he made out this weekend.