The month of May has come to a thrilling conclusion, as the Indianapolis 500 has now come and gone, and teams must immediately re-focus on the Raceway at Belle Isle Park for the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix.
Marcus Ericsson etched his name into the history books by winning his first Borg-Warner Trophy. Thanks to the double-points payout, the Swede gained the points standings lead as well, jumping all the way up from eighth to first on 226 points. Indy 500 runner up Pato O’Ward also sits in the runner-up seat in the points on 213 points, overtaking Alex Palou for the spot by one point. The Spaniard now sits third with 212 points. Fourth place belongs to Will Power, who saw his streak of top four finishes finally break at the Indy 500, with 202 points, with Josef Newgarden rounding out the top five on 174 points.
This will be the final race on the Belle Isle Street Circuit before the race is moved to downtown Detroit, and will not be a doubleheader event this year as it traditionally is. Who will take home the win in the final race at Belle Isle? Will Ericsson be able to keep up the momentum he has coming off of an Indianapolis 500 victory? Will those that had lackluster performances at the Brickyard be able to rebound quickly? Here’s everything you need to know ahead of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix.
WHAT HAPPENED LAST YEAR?
Ericsson picked up his first career IndyCar victory at Belle Isle last year, winning after a chaotic finish to the first race of the doubleheader weekend.
With five laps to go, a red flag was displayed for a crash by Romain Grosjean, forcing all cars to come down pit lane. On a scorching hot day in the Motor City, race leader Will Power was unable to get his car cooled and his engine did not re-fire when the red flag was lifted, handing the race lead to second-placed Ericsson. When the race resumed with three laps to go, the Swede streaked away to get the win. Rinus Veekay and Pato O’Ward finished second and third respectively, each making quick work of Takuma Sato at the restart.
This race was also notable for the scary crash of Arrow McLaren SP driver Felix Rosenqvist. On lap 25, Rosenqvist’s throttle stuck in sixth gear while he was downshifting for Turn Six, throwing him straight into the barrier. His car ramped onto the tyre barrier before coming to a halt, resulting in damage to the catchfence and the concrete barrier as well, resulting in a one hour and eighteen minute red flag.
Thankfully, Rosenqvist was cleared of any major injuries but was unable to compete in the second leg of the doubleheader.
You can read the full race report here.
Race two saw yet another thrilling conclusion as O’Ward beat out Josef Newgarden after starting in sixteenth place.
The young Mexican charged through the field, and found himself in fifth place for the final restart with seven laps to go. He made quick work of Graham Rahal and Sato in the first few corners, quickly reaching the gearbox of Colton Herta in second while Newgarden ran away at the front.
O’Ward took second from Herta on the backstretch on the very next lap, and began to hunt down Newgarden who was clearly losing speed in his wearing tyres. With three laps to go, O’Ward made his move once again on the backstretch, banging wheels with Newgarden before taking the position and the win. Newgarden was able to hold onto second place after falling into the clutches of Alex Palou, who took third after Herta locked up battling for the lead and was forced down an escape road.
O’Ward dedicated the race to his teammate Rosenqvist, stating post-race that he told his teammate he was going to win the race for him, and he followed through on his promise.
You can read the full race report here.
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR THIS WEEKEND?
Callum Ilott will unfortunately be unable to race this weekend after suffering a broken hand as a result of his crash in the Indianapolis 500, and in his stead Juncos Hollinger Racing have recruited IndyCar’s resident “Super Sub” Santino Ferrucci.
Ferruci raced for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing at Detroit last year, finishing sixth in race one and tenth in race two. Following a crash in qualifying for race two, Ferrucci took a frankenstein-ed car to a top ten result, and could be in for a good day with JHR.
Another story emerged on Wednesday that Kyle Kirkwood will join (or re-join from his time in Indy Lights) Andretti Autosport next season in the No. 27 Honda, with Alexander Rossi announcing earlier today that he will join Arrow McLaren SP. Will this news have an effect on the drivers’ performances this weekend? Will their focuses be shifted more towards the future now, or will they still be able to focus on the season at hand?
It’s also work noting just how impressive Ericsson has been in the year since getting his first win at Belle Isle. The “Sneaky Swede” has been just that, collecting more points than any other driver over that timespan.
Now, coming off of arguably the biggest win of his career, can he continue (or even expand upon) the run of form that started here in 2021?
Unlike years prior, the race will now be one singular 70 lap event, the first time since 2012 that this format is being used. Will this change the strategy for some drivers, knowing that they won’t have to endure two physically demanding races back-to-back? Will we possibly see more aggressive driving? One man who might have the answer is Scott Dixon, who was the winner of that 2012 event (one of three Detroit GP wins).
Coming off of yet another heartbreaking Indy 500, Dixon will be looking to rebound at a track where he knows how to win.
Friday 03 June
1230 PST / 1530 EST / 1930 GMT – Practice 1
Saturday 04 June
0530 PST / 0830 EST / 1230 GMT – Practice 2
0935 PST / 1235 EST / 1635 GMT – Qualifying
Sunday 05 June
1200 PST / 1500 EST / 1800 GMT – Race
WHERE CAN I WATCH?
Coverage in the UK for the race will be provided by Sky Sports F1.
In the United States, coverage for the race will be on the USA Network, while practice and qualifying will be streamed on the Peacock streaming service.
HOW CAN I KEEP UP WITH ALL THE ACTION?
You can follow all the all the action here at The Checkered Flag. We will be providing coverage of the practice, qualifying, and race sessions.
You can also follow IndyCar on Twitter (@Indycar) for live updates during the sessions.