Verizon IndyCar Series rookie Robert Wickens in the No.6 Lucas Oil Honda for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports completed proceedings at the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season opening Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg on Sunday.
The Canadian claimed the Verizon P1 Award on Saturday for the 110 lap race on Sunday, his first Verizon IndyCar Series race.
Wickens was extremely quick throughout the race, leading 69 laps and looked set to end a dream weekend with victory but it wasn’t to be. In the closing stages of the race, Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi attempted to overtake Wickens however this caused Wickens to spin his Honda tumbling the Canadian down the order to 18th place.
Speaking following the race, Wickens commented by saying:
[On the contact with Alexander Rossi:] “I need to see it before I think I comment on anything but I didn’t really want to defend too hard because there was so much marbles offline so I figured if Alex wants to go there, go for it. I gave him space around the outside. I broke late. I made the corner and then we had some contact and obviously it put me into a spin into the wall. I ended my day with one lap left in the race. Not the way I imagined the day going for me or my Lucas Oil guys. It was all a little bit confusing because I was told on the radio we were going green but they didn’t turn the lights off the pace car so I didn’t get the best restart I could have done. Probably the worst one of the whole day. I want to kind of speak to the officials to see why they didn’t turn the lights off the pace car before we went green but I don’t know. I just need to see everything before I comment.
Speaking about dominating the race, Wickens commented by saying:
[About dominating the race:] “It’s great. There’s positives I’m sure but, at the end of the day, when you are running up front the entire race and then you don’t even finish it doesn’t matter how your day goes, you never want that to happen.
James Hinchcliffe in the No.5 Arrow Electronics Honda started the race from seventh place and went on to finish the event in fourth place just missing out on a podium finish and speaking following the race, the Mayor of HinchTown commented by saying:
It wasn’t quite the ending we wanted but it was a good race. I tapped the wall in turn 8 early in the first stint and that kind of bent it out of whack a little bit. Man, on our own in clean air, the Arrow Electronics car was a rocket ship, we were setting fast laps at one point on Firestone red tires and black tires, but once we got into traffic, I think we lost the front end too much and couldn’t do anything about it. At the end there, Graham [Rahal] had a lot more push to pass than we did so I was trying to threaten him and make him use up as much as he could, but it is what it is. Gutted for Robbie [Wickens] obviously, it was a storybook race from pole but a few laps to go going for the win, Alex [Rossi] is a fast, aggressive guy and we knew something was going to be tried at least, and it’s unfortunate he ended up there. Huge congratulations to the team for a solid result.
Jack Harvey in the No.60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Michael Shank Racing with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda started the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg from 19th place but was forced to retire from the race and speaking following the event he commented by saying:
We had a strong start and gained a few positions before the first corner. We aren’t exactly sure what happened just yet. I was in the middle of Turns 11 and 12, and the tire just went and then I had contact with the wall. Up until that point we were having a pretty good weekend and running really well in the race. We’re pretty confident that we were running the same strategy as [Sebastien] Bourdais and [Graham] Rahal, so could have been challenging for a podium finish. It’s really disappointing that we didn’t see the checkered flag today, but the guys have done a really great job and we will just keep moving forward. I have a great team of people behind me and we will come back strong at Long Beach.