The New, the Old and More F1 Alumni Take on the Dual in Detroit

June 2nd, 2017
By: Christian Ryan

As engines echo in Indianapolis, the Verizon IndyCar Series rolls on to The Chevrolet Dual in Detroit at the Raceway at Belle Isle Park. The 2.35-mile street course in Detroit, Michigan marks the only doubleheader in the 2017 IndyCar season, with races taking place on Saturday, June 3rd and Sunday, June 4th. The weekend’s doubleheader will mark the 22nd and 23rd IndyCar races on the course.

The 2017 Indianapolis 500 Champion Takuma Sato, one week off of becoming the first Japanese-born driver to take the checkered flag at Indy, is now preparing to take his Andretti Autosport Honda to the streets of Detroit. Sato is not resting on his recent success.

“Detroit will be completely different from the Indy 500,” Sato explains. “It’s going back to a street course - very bumpy track, a lot of braking and tight corners. Usually Detroit is a very exciting track and quite challenging.”

Having narrowly missed attaining a record-tying fourth Indianapolis 500 victory last week, Helio Castroneves enters the race weekend feeling right at home. The Team Penske driver holds the most IndyCar victories at Belle Isle with three, including his first career win in 2000.

“Detroit is a really cool race,” Castroneves said, highlighting the unique experience for race attendees. “The fans are great and full of enthusiasm. It’s our only doubleheader this season and is always a fun race weekend for the fans.”

Canada’s own James Hinchcliffe enters Detroit looking to put the month of May behind him. The driver of the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda was caught in an accident in Indianapolis, capping off a month to forget for the Mayor of Hinchtown. As the season wears on and Hinchcliffe’s stronger street courses such as Detroit and Toronto are coming up on the race calendar, the Oakville, Ontario native is looking forward to the chance of rebounding.

“I think the whole [Schmidt Peterson Motorsports] team is looking forward to getting to Detroit,” admits Hinchcliffe. “Obviously the month of May didn’t go the way that we had hoped, and luckily, we don’t have a lot of time to sit and dwell on it because we’re right back to work.” Of his chances of rebounding in points, Hinchcliffe went on to say: “So far this season we have had strong cars on street circuits, so I’m looking forward to getting our championship attack back on track.”

After two-time FIA Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso’s Rookie of the Year winning performance in the Indianapolis 500, another familiar face to the F1 paddock will make his IndyCar debut this weekend. Esteban Gutierrez, formerly of Sauber F1 and Haas F1, will be behind the wheel of the No. 18 Honda for Dale Coyne Racing as a stand-in for Sebastian Bourdais. Another former Formula 1 driver, Bourdais was injured during qualifying for the Indy 500 and will remain sidelined for the rest of 2017. After the buzz surrounding Alonso’s performance, Gutierrez looks to build on his own experience in a notoriously difficult racetrack.

“I’m excited about my debut races at the Detroit Grand Prix and I cannot wait to start working with the team, engineers and Honda, as well as driving a Dallara car again,” Gutierrez said, highlighting his Dallara experience in GP3 and GP2. “I will do my best for Dale Coyne Racing, Honda, and all the Mexican fans.”

Watch the Verizon IndyCar Series Dual in Detroit on Sportsnet 360:

Race 1: Saturday, June 3 at 3:50pm EDT.

Race 2: Sunday, June 4 at 3:50pm EDT.

Source: Driver quotes retrieved from Verizon IndyCar Series press releases.