Tough day for F1 drivers in Indy 500
28 May 2012 – Sunday not only witnessed the Monaco Grand Prix, but a second legendary motorsport event as Indianapolis played host to its 96th edition of the 500. Scotland’s Dario Franchitti won the race for the third time, but it could so easily have been a memorable day for ex Formula 1 podium finisher Takuma Sato.
As Franchitti, cousin of Paul di Resta, overhauled team-mate Scott Dixon heading into the final lap, Sato – driving for Rahal Letterman Racing – pulled off an impressive move to follow through into second place. Then challenging for the lead at Turn 1 on the final lap, the Japanese touched the inside white line and spun into the wall.
It was the first Indy 500 for Rubens Barrichello, who joined the IndyCar Series with KV Racing after being left on the F1 sidelines by Williams. The Brazilian finished 11th, but was voted Rookie of the Year, with Sato classified 17th and ex Toro Rosso man Sébastien Bourdais also a lap down.
Jean Alesi’s 500 debut had been much anticipated, but the French-Sicilian became the first retirement of the 33 runners only nine laps into the 200-lap event; he was withdrawn by organisers for not maintaining sufficient speed in the field.
The highest-placed driver with an F1 connection of any sort was Ryan Briscoe, who finished fifth and had enjoyed free practice outings with Toyota back in 2004; memorably, he crashed at Eau Rouge on the Friday of that year’s Belgian Grand Prix. In seventh place was Justin Wilson, Minardi and Jaguar F1 representative of 2003.
The dramatic finish to the race can be seen at GPUpdate TV