Monday , 23 October 2017

2016 Grand Prix of Sonoma Preview – The Finale

The season finale is upon us, and the championship will be a straight fight at the 2016 Grand Prix of Sonoma between two team mates – Will Power of Australia and Simon Pagenaud of France, both representing the legendary Team Penske. Double points (love it or loathe it) will be on offer here as it was at the Indianapolis 500, and could have an effect on the outcome of the championship, as it controversially did in 2015.

2016 Grand Prix of Sonoma Preview

The Points Battle

Juan Pablo Montoya capitalised on a well-timed restart and issues for his team mates to take victory at the season opener at St. Petersburg, but from then on, Pagenaud has led the championship all the way. Since the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, he has had a substantial advantage on his rivals, and it was not until Road America when Power found his imperious form where anyone really made any inroads into the advantage Pagenaud had. However a crash last time out at Watkins Glen for power has left him with a 43 point deficit with 104 on the table. No other driver is able to surpass Pagenaud (Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves can equal, but would lose out on countback). Here are the somewhat complicated championship permutations:

2016-title-points

Regardless of what Power does, a top four or top five result with two bonus points will do the job for Pagenaud.

For Power to win, he needs:

If in first place:
With four BP, Pagenaud to be fifth with one BP or lower.
With three BP, Pagenaud to be fifth (no BP) or lower.
With two BP, Pagenaud to be sixth (three BP) or lower.
With one BP, Pagenaud to be sixth (two BP) or lower.
With no BP, Pagenaud to be sixth (one BP) or lower.

If in second place:
With four BP, Pagenaud to be tenth (one BP) or lower.
With three BP, Pagenaud to be tenth (no BP), 11th (two BP) or lower.
With two BP, Pagenaud to be 11th (one BP), 12th (three BP) or lower.
With one BP, Pagenaud to be 11th (no BP), 12th (two BP), 13th (four BP) or lower.
With no BP, Pagenaud to be 12th (one BP), 13th (three BP) or lower.

If in third place:
With four BP, Pagenaud to be 15th (no BP) or lower.
With three BP, Pagenaud to be 16th (one BP) or lower.
With two BP, Pagenaud to be 16th (no BP), 17th (two BP) or lower.
With one BP, Pagenaud to be 17th (one BP), 18th (three BP) or lower.
With no BP, Pagenaud to be 17th (no BP), 18th (two BP), 19th (four BP) or lower.

If in fourth place:
With four BP, Pagenaud to be 18th (no BP) or lower.
With three BP, Pagenaud to be 19th (one BP) or lower.
With two BP, Pagenaud to be 19th (no BP), 20th (two BP) or lower.
With one BP, Pagenaud to be 20th (one BP), 21st (three BP) or lower.
With no BP, Pagenaud to be 20th (no BP), 21st (two BP) or 22nd (four BP) or lower.

If in fifth place:
With four BP, Pagenaud to be 20th (no BP) or lower.
With three BP, Pagenaud to be 21st (one BP) or lower.
With two BP, Pagenaud to be 21st (no BP), 22nd (two BP) or lower.
With one BP, Pagenaud to be 22nd (one BP) or 22nd (no BP).
With no BP, Pagenaud to be 22nd (no BP).

If in sixth place:
With four BP, Pagenaud to be 22nd (no BP).
Three BP or less would not be enough.

Anything below sixth for Power would crown his rival as champion.

The Circuit – Sonoma Raceway

Fast, flowing, undulating and tricky are terms frequently used to describe Sonoma Raceway in California. The venue was formerly known as Infineon Raceway. The circuit characteristics mean that overtaking is not easy in IndyCar terms, but there are still overtaking chances into the hairpins and the chicane. It is worth noting that both Power and Dixon have won here three times each, and their form could play a role in the outcome of the championship.

Predictions

Based on form at this circuit and in recent races, it is tough to overlook both Power and Dixon here, and I suspect that the fight at the front could be between those two. The likes of Mikhail Aleshin, Josef Newgarden and Montoya could also feature. The race will be long (should last more than two hours) and a lot can happen in that time, as we saw last year. Ultimately, I am predicting a Power win, but a Pagenaud championship.

About Craig Woollard

Craig Woollard is an avid motor racing fan and freelance journalist and writer. A mathematics graduate from the University of Essex in 2013, Woollard has ambitions to work within motor racing. He is a member of Autosport's academy programme. In his spare time, he listens to music, sim races, wears hats and drinks cranberry juice.

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