Honda Motorsports Weekend, July 29-30: Alonso Earns a Holiday
McLaren-Honda scores big before F1 Summer Break; Honda IndyCar teams settle for podium.
This weekend found some rare Formula 1 success for Honda followed by one of the most entertaining scenes we’ve seen in racing recently. That accompanied a modest weekend for Honda at Mid-Ohio and touring car ups and downs across the pond.
Formula 1 at Hungaroring
How did Fernando Alonso celebrate both McLaren-Hondas finishing in the points for the first time in 2017? He of course plopped down in a deck chair to watch the podium ceremony in a nod to the meme he created through his qualifying troubles at the 2015 Brazilian Grand Prix.
Alonso qualified his Honda 8th on the grid and worked up to 6th place with a classic outside pass on Carlos Sainz. Fernando capped that performance by claiming the race’s fastest lap. This is, of course, a gargantuan accomplishment given McLaren-Honda’s troubles this season so far.
Teammate Stoffel Vandoorne grabbed his first point of the year with a 10th place finish, giving McLaren-Honda a small boon just before F1’s month-long summer break.
McLaren-Honda also climbs out of the manufacturers’ points basement with 11 total points to Sauber-Ferrari’s 5. Sauber also announced this week that, contrary to earlier rumors this season, the team would not have a Honda powerplant in 2018. Sauber will instead run a Mercedes hybrid V6.
IndyCar at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
Honda’s IndyCar teams had no answer for Team Penske’s young American ace Josef Newgarden. Newgarden took his Chevy past teammate Will Power to take the lead and ultimately the win. The victory also gave Newgarden season points lead from Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda driver Scott Dixon.
Graham Rahal put the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda on the podium in third while harrying Power for second place late in the race. Rahal typically performs well at his family’s home track and his strong qualifying put him on Row 2 of the grid.
Dixon struggled with something likely broken in the rear suspension and a failed impact gun on a tire change. The relentless Kiwi brought his Honda home in 9th place; he trails Newgarden by just eight points headed to the next IndyCar round at Pocono Raceway.
Three Andretti Hondas also finished in the Top 10: Takuma Sato (5th), Alexander Rossi (6th), and Ryan Hunter-Reay (8th).
Pirelli World Challenge at Mid-Ohio
RealTime Racing’s pair of Acura NSXs racked up three Top 10 finishes in two races at Mid-Ohio this weekend. In Race 1, Ryan Eversley picked up two spots from his 12th-place qualifying to finish 10th. In Race 2, teammate Peter Kox moved forward from 9th on the grid to finish 6th. Eversley finished where he started in 8th place.
RealTime returns to racing at Utah Motorsports Campus August 11 to 13. Eversley and Kox entered the Mid-Ohio weekend 10th and 11th in the drivers’ points.
British Touring Car Championship at Snetterton Circuit
Eurotech Racing driver Jack Goff scored a surprise pole for the privateer Honda Civic Type R. He had no answer for a hard-charging Ash Sutton’s Subaru in the weekend’s opening race, although Goff came second. Honda Yuasa Racing driver Matt Neal earned redemption with the final podium spot for his Honda. Neal’s Civic failed post-qualifying inspection, but he retained his fourth-place grid position after appealing the decision.
Hondas struggled in the weekend’s second race while Sutton won again in his Subaru. In the third race, however, Gordon Shedden inherited the victory when Andrew Jordan’s BMW suffered mechanical failure in the closing laps.
That win put Shedden back atop the drivers championship by just two points over Colin Turkington. Honda trails BMW in the manufacturers’ standings by 54 points headed to Knockhill on August 12 and 13.