Friday, February 26, 2016

2016 Verizon IndyCar Team-By-Team Preview: Andretti-Herta Autosport

This is the quintessential present-day IndyCar situation. One team has a respectable season with a rookie driver. In fact, said rookie driver wins Rookie of the Year and does nothing but keeps his nose clean. He brings the car home in one piece week-in and week-out. Everything looks positive heading into the next season and then the parachute is cut just when it appears everything will fall gently into the new season. Bryan Herta Autosport appeared set to bring back Gabby Chaves in 2016 but everything fell to shambles when it appeared everything was going to work out. The bittersweet situation is one promising young driver is out but the merger with Andretti Autosport will keep an entry on the grid and another rising star will get an opportunity. That rising star is Alexander Rossi.

2015 Bryan Herta Autosport Review
Wins: 0
Best Finish: 9th (Belle Isle 1)
Poles: 0
Best Start: 12th (Milwaukee).
Final Championship Positions: 15th (Gabby Chaves)

2016 Driver

Alexander Rossi
The American driver paid his dues in Europe and after years of polishing his craft in the ladder system, Rossi finally made it to Formula One while also finishing runner-up in the GP2 Series championship to McLaren development driver Stoffel Vandoorne. Rossi made five starts in Formula One last season for Manor Marussia F1. He beat his Manor teammate Will Stevens in qualifying three times and finished ahead of him in four races. Rossi's best finish was 12th in the United States Grand Prix, the only lead lap finish for Manor in the entire 2015 season. 

Numbers to Remember: 
2- Rossi has made two starts at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Both were on the road course during the 2007 Formula BMW USA season. Rossi finished fourth and sixth in those two races. 

4- Victories at Road America in nine starts at the track between Formula BMW and Skip Barber National Championship. Rossi also had four GP2 victories in 53 starts. 

10- Rossi won ten races in the 2008 Formula BMW USA season. That was the last time Rossi ran full-time in United States.

Rossi makes the Rookie of the Year title fight extremely interesting. He will be going up against former Manor Marussia teammate Max Chilton and fellow American Conor Daly while Spencer Pigot could also be in contention for the Rookie of the Year fight. Rossi is with a great team and the team has brought in veteran engineer Tom German to work with the American. Unlike his fellow Rookie of the Year candidates, Rossi has never run an oval. I think Rossi will have some good runs and will have a few top fives. He will be somewhere between 11th-15th in the championship and in the thick of it for Rookie of the Year honors.