Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States Tony Kanaan says Indy 500 will be his final race before retiring from IndyCar
Last week, Red Bull Racing unveiled its new RB19 car and a new relationship with Ford Motor Co. at an event in New York that featured riders Max Verstappen, Sergio Pérez and team principal Christian Horner.
This is the first Formula One team to arrive in the United States in 2023, but even this slight movement of the arrow reflects a major shift in both Formula One leadership and their teams, and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.
“It’s something fantastic and unique that the sport can make its way into the US,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the riders, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”
In 2023, Formula 1 will host three races in the US and five times in North America. Circuit of the Americas will host its 11th straight race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock Cafe, with a third addition in downtown Las Vegas in November.
With the Canadian Grand Prix scheduled for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix for November, the American fans are now on par with the Europeans, who have eight competitions on the continent and one in England.
In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. Only George Russell, who won in Brazil, kept him from covering the hemisphere. This fact is less remarkable when you consider that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – almost two-thirds of the races on the schedule.
By the time Formula arrived in Austin, Texas for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen already had completed its second championship in a row.
“Sometimes it’s hard to replicate a season, but I think it’s the same as with a car, right? You’re always trying to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always pay attention to the little details: even if you had a good race, you could have done better. And then, of course, you also learn from bad races. So we always try to look for those little improvements and the overall experience you get year after year.
“You’re trying to do better, but of course that also depends a lot on your package.”
Now Verstappen’s thoughts will inevitably turn to the creation of a dynasty, with America once again playing a central role.
“I just enjoy what I do,” Verstappen said. “After years in Formula 1 where you have to be at the top of your game and you gain a lot from your experience – in that sense, nothing can hurt you anymore. Every year you just try to do your best. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season in good shape and be well prepared. But if you don’t have a car, you won’t win the championship.”
Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total in Monaco and at the Marina Bay Street track. With two 2023 races in the US on street circuits, Pérez is looking to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially become his main championship contender.
“The strategy is clear; it’s maximizing the potential of the car – and we think we have a good car, but how good is it?” Perez said. We don’t know what the competitors are doing. We’re just doing our best to build this car and hope it’s good enough for us to win races.
“I think we should work together as a team. In the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just a good compromise. The competition there will be very strong, so we really need everything we can get from each other.”
Formula 1 returns to the US for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7th.
Tony Kanaan’s final lap in the NTT IndyCar Series finally comes on May 28, when the veteran announced he was stepping down from 107th in the Indy 500 after a quarter-century career.
2013 Indianapolis 500 winner Announced Wednesday morning via social media that his last start will be at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
In the video he posted, Kanaan walks around the Brick Factory grounds and says, “It’s been a wonderful journey, but it’s not over yet. I will still have the pleasure of driving through the bricks again. Thank you all, see you on race day.”
🇺🇸It’s been a great journey, but it’s not over yet. I hope you guys for the last one in May.
🇺🇸 Let’s do this one last time. See you in May.@Arrow McLaren @IndyCar pic.twitter.com/lC1iY4GhT0
— Tony Canaan (@TonyCanaan) February 15, 2023
Last year, he was announced as a fourth team Dallara-Chevrolet driver for the Arrow McLaren IndyCar team in the 2023 Indy 500. Kanaan finished third last year with Chip Ganassi Racing in his only IndyCar start for the 2022 season.
In May, Kanaan will drive the No. 66 Dallara-Chevy for Arrow McLaren under the main sponsorship of Smart Stop Self Storage. This number is a tribute to the history of McLaren Racing, commemorating Bruce McLaren’s victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966, the same year that the McLaren team entered its first Formula One race.
Fernando Alonso finished 66th when he failed to qualify for the 2019 Indy 500. Mark Donohue won the 1972 Indy 500 with No. 66.
During an afternoon press conference Wednesday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Kanaan said he has no regrets, but “you’re never ready for this. As much as you’d like to go, it’s there. You have to make smart, right decisions at the right time. I wouldn’t want to come (to Indy) just to participate. There was a really good opportunity last year. I finished the race and was ready.”
Kanaan still said he expected to be “crying like a baby” during the pre-Indy 500 ceremonies, which would be his 22nd start on the 2.5-mile oval.
“I will miss him every day of my life,” Kanaan said. “I miss it now. But I think I’m fine. We start 100 days (before) Indy Friday and also start 100 days of crying on Friday. I’m fine, I agree with my decision and I have a good chance of winning this case.”
The popular Brazilian competed in four oval races with Ganassi (sharing 48th in the Dallar-Honda with Jimmie Johnson) in a partial schedule for 2021 that extended his career. Initially, Kanaan announced that the 2020 season would be his “last lap” in IndyCar.
But the 2004 series champion’s plans to hold a celebratory lap in honor of fans were thwarted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which limited crowd attendance.
Since then, Kanaan has often joked about his delayed retirement plans, noting at an IndyCar pre-season media event two weeks ago in Palm Springs, California that six-time series champion Scott Dixon “makes fun of me to this day.”
👀 @Arrow McLaren @IndyCar #punishment_photo @NBCSports pic.twitter.com/8Bcz4N9jqS
— Tony Canaan (@TonyCanaan) February 1, 2023
“This is the last, last, last, last lap, very last lap,” Kanaan told reporters on Feb. 1, when asked if he hoped to race Indy again in 2024. will definitely make a decision that depends not only on me.
At the time, Kanaan said he planned to make a decision about his future “when we cross the start-finish line that Sunday. When I win – if I win – I will put everyone in their place and say I’m coming back. That is exactly what happened last year.
“Now I think the focus is on this 500. It wasn’t a mistake, but we announced something two years ago and then there was a great opportunity with Jimmy (the ride). I’m not going to say, “That’s what I do.” Just let it be.”
In nearly 400 starts in the CART Champ Car and IndyCar Series from 1998 to 2022, Kanaan has 17 wins and 79 podium finishes.
His first win came on July 25, 1999 at the Michigan International Speedway with Jerry Forsythe #11 Reynard-Honda. His most recent win was in the season finale on August 30, 2014 at Auto Club Speedway in 10th place Dallara-Honda behind Ganassi.
Kanaan went on to compete in other series such as the Superstar Racing Experience and stock car racing in Brazil.
It’s sad to see Tony Kanaan being challenged, but like Kevin Harvick, you can’t ask for a longer career.
IndyCar has changed a lot since Tony debuted in 1998. Of his 17 career victories, only 3 come from tracks where IndyCar is still racing (Indy, Texas, Iowa). https://t.co/q18BUQJO60
— Nascarman (@nascarman_rr) February 15, 2023