INDIANAPOLIS – It’s hard enough for a rookie to show up to Indianapolis and qualify for the Indianapolis 500. To make four complete laps while holding your breath at speeds in excess of 225 mph is grueling enough. But, for Robert Wickens, his Indy 500 qualifying debut was frustrating to say the least. He was mad at the process, upset his teammate who was deserving to make the field didn’t make it and now has to regroup and do it all over again tomorrow.
“I was expecting maybe a slightly more organized event for my first qualifying anyway,” said a disappointed Wickens after the qualifying day ended. “I got treated unfairly when the rain came and we weren’t allowed to cool the car. We just went out and had come in again and we were 2-percent down in horsepower because of that and they were like okay here you go again. I ran six laps. I don’t know how many drivers in the Indy 500 have run six laps in qualifying but we did.”
Wickens is right in that sense too. He was second quickest in practice on Fast Friday but that lap was with a tow. On the pivotal no tow report, he was 10th. The speed was in his No. 6 Honda. In qualifying though, he lost a ton of speed and would qualifying with a four-lap average of 225.955 mph. That’s over two mph slower than Friday. While you can’t compare the two days, you can compare how much not cooling your car can do for what output of speed is now in it.
“We didn’t even gear to be in the speed range we were in.,” Wickens continued. “I was actually having to run a full gear shorter everywhere because we didn’t have the power to pull through it. It’s not Honda’s fault. Honda’s done a great job for us all weekend and the team has done a great job too. When you’re not allowed to touch the car because of tech and when you just sit there for an hour, it gets hot as hell. It’s not like it’s cold outside. You guys have been here. It’s humid.”
Wickens also thinks that given the rain delays that with daylight being bright as late as it is here that the session should have been run past the 5:50 p.m. ET checkered. He also says that having qualifying based off of a lottery draw is “insane.”
“Given the delays they definitely should have extended it. The fact that they just stuck to tradition and shot the gun or whatever that thing is and said that’s it, I mean come on that’s not fair. I guess it is what it is. It’s tradition I guess. I personally think the whole lottery thing is insane. But, you know I’m an outsider and doing this for the first time and I get an unlucky draw in drawing 45. That’s no excuse though because Ed Carpenter drew last and went second. It’s just frustrating.”
Wickens was welcomed to Indy in a very frustrating way. But, the Canadian has a ton of talent and can honestly make up for it next Sunday and win the thing. He is more than capable of that.