While today’s IndyCar Grand Prix on the streets of Sao Paulo was certainly an interesting race, my enjoyment of the race was once again marred somewhat by the rules of the sport.
As the race entered its final stages, KV Racing’s EJ Viso found himself in an aggressive battle with Marco Andretti (Andretti-Autosport) for 2nd place. Initially, Andretti held the lead of pair and defended vigorously – very vigorously infact.
On number of occasions, Viso had brief looks down the inside of several corners, only to be chopped off by Andretti. Very tough defence indeed and certainly close to the bone, but no worse than we have seen the likes of Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna do in the past. Andretti received no penalty for nearly taking Viso’s front off on a number of occasions.
However, my irritaion was piqued once Viso passed the American for 2nd place. While Viso took a number of odd lines, he was eventually penalised for taking a defensive line; on occasion making Andretti take the outside line into turns – those that remember the IndyCar race at Edmonton last year, will know that drivers are not allowed to defend their positions into corners should a following driver wish to attack.
As Andretti challenged, Viso made Andretti work hard for it – fairly in my eyes – and that earned the Venezuelan a drive through. Viso fell down the order to 13th, while a poor pitstop dropped Andretti to 14th at the chequered flag.
Like the penalty received by Helio Castroneves at Edmonton last year, the “non-defence” rule makes the sport look incredibly foolish. Removing the possibility of defending a position nullifies some of the great skills involved in motor racing, thereby lowering the impression of the series.
This is not a post knocking the officiating of Brian Barnhart, Tony Cotman or Al Unser Jr – they are applying the rules; this is a criticism of the rules as they are written. Should IndyCar really want to be taken seriously on the world stage, it needs to lose the “non-defence rule” – either that or maybe the drivers should get out of the sport.
Such irony that in a weekend that the IndyCar drivers paid tribute to the great Senna, such a rule played a large part in the overall result of the race – a rule that would surely have appalled Senna himself.
As long as this rule exists, IndyCar will always appear to be something of an amateurish – if expensive sport.
Notes from the race will appear tomorrow.