English IndyCar Series driver Justin Wilson criticised the race craft on display at the crash-filled IndyCar street race in Toronto last weekend, and called for greater clarity in the rules governing overtaking in the sport to help drivers understand where and when they could make moves - and when they should be aware of being on the receiving end of moves from other drivers.

"It was pretty embarrassing", admitted Wilson, who drives the #22 Dreyer & Reinbold car and who finished 15th in the race. "It was bad. It was kind of the perfect storm. Toronto encourages that sort of driving. You've got the concrete patches where there's no grip so people get over-committed before they even realise it, and we had the side-by-side restarts. But ultimately it all came down to people making really bad decisions and poor race craft."

The issue of where a chasing car needed to be on track relative to the car ahead in order for it to be deemed to be making a 'legitimate' pass was also a thorny question for drivers now, Wilson explained in a radio interview for IndyCar magazine show Trackside airing on a local Indianapolis-based station, presented by Indianapolis Star reporter Curt Cavin and VERSUS cable channel pit lane presenter Kevin Lee.

"It's difficult, and I think a lot of this stems from the fact that we don't allow blocking now," said Wilson. "We don't allow defending either. The guy in the lead is forced to stick around on the outside, leave the door wide open and there's a miscommunication because the guy behind thinks 'Oh, I've got this, he's leaving the door open, I'm going to take it.' The guy in front is not planning that at all, he's going for the optimum racing line ... Guess they meet somewhere between corner entry and the apex.

"There's just no rules set in place for the overtaking car to abide by and people as the leading car aren't anticipating well enough that somebody might be trying to fill up spots," he explained. "It's a mess and it needs sorting out - whether that's with some kind of definition of when the car behind deserves a lane, and when it doesn't, and I think that's something that needs to be addressed.

"If not, [then] allow defending," Wilson continued. "Blocking is bad, you know - we all hate seeing the lane tossed just to defend, I think that's bad racing and no one likes to see that. But defending I don't think is such a bad thing and it's part of race craft."

Panther Racing's JR Hildebrand, who finished eighth in the race, also felt that some guidance about where and when overtaking could be attempted on a road course would help avoid the situation seen in Toronto.

"I would definitely agree with Justin that kind of no matter how you look at it, for us - for everyone involved - without a doubt some clarification of, like, 'What is [Race Control]'s idea of a legitimate pass and what's not?' would definitely be helpful, because I think ... whether it's because we're going faster and the stakes are higher or whatever, I think it's a little more clear on ovals."

Hildebrand pointed out that the series' mix of circuits presented a particularly challenging inconsistency through the season. "With the IndyCar Series it's tough, because it's so much different road course to oval," he said. "On an oval, basically if you've got your wing underneath a guy that line should be yours, [whereas on the road courses] you've got to be all the way alongside a guy before its your corner, and I think that makes it tough going from road course to ovals." He suggested that drivers meetings should highlight the difference in expectations as the series moves from one format of track to another to make sure everyone was on the same page.

Wilson was sympathetic to the difficulties race control faced in assessing and handing down possible race penalties without suffocating the on-track action.

"It's a difficult balance to get that just right," he said. "They don't want to call every single penalty, they're trying not to ruin the racing ... If we just had cars running around [and] staying in line not attempting to pass, people would get upset and say it's a boring race. It's a very fine line that we're trying to walk here.

"I didn't agree with all [Race Control's] calls in the race," he conceded. "I thought there should have been a few more calls and some different calls, but having seen what Race Control is dealing with as far as some of the camera shots they get - they don't get the full TV coverage, which I don't understand. I saw some of the camera shots they had and what they had to deal with and you can't make calls. It's virtually impossible to make a call using that information."

Wilson said it might be about time to improve the technology available to the officials making the calls, and suggested multiple GPS locators on cars which would give a greater accuracy of the car's position and angle going into potential contact situations. "I think it's a number of small pieces that need to come together to take it into that next stage."

Hildebrand had similar reservations about some of the decisions and felt the lack of clarity on rules governing overtaking contributed to them.

"From a penalties perspective, that's a tough call, but I think there were definitely some situations watching the replay of Toronto that I think some penalties could have been applied for what I guess is considered avoidable contact," he said. "They're just not, because the rule is a little bit vague in terms of how that works. There isn't a rule that states specifically how far up you got to be on a guy ... I think that that's something for sure that would help all of us and would end up, I think, inevitably making the racing a little bit better if it was more clear what exactly the kind of situation was and that they stick by it."

On the subject of double-file restarts, Justin Wilson shrugged off criticism of how the drivers handled them at Toronto, especially toward the end when it seemed that aside from the front two rows everyone had just decided to run single-file anyway: "It depends on the track," he said. "You got to Texas, Iowa, Milwaukee - everyone lined up. You got to Toronto and Long Beach, it's impossible. I don't care who you are, you could be Michael Schumacher or Milka Duno, you can't line up any earlier."

However, he felt that some of the late race restarts called off at Toronto were the result of some deliberate game-playing. "There was a couple of restarts at Toronto that were called off, and they should have been - and I think the third one should have been as well. And at that stage you say, 'Okay, the leader [Graham Rahal at the time] - you're going to the back,' because we know what they're trying to do. But the rest of the pack just physically couldn't get packed up especially with all the marbles on the track."

Wilson was still somewhat bemused as to why so many other drivers had such problems with the now-notorious turn 3, saying that he'd not had such troubles with it. "I don't really know. I went side-by-side with quite a few people through there and had no issues at all - Oriol Servia, Dario Franchitti, we went side-by-side through [turns] 3, 4 all the way up to 5 ... It's just a matter of respect as much as anything between the drivers, and understanding, okay, when's it time to give it up and when's it time to stick it out."

Wilson felt that drivers in front might be underestimating the speed of the outside line and not taking advantage of it to avoid cutting off anyone coming down the inside. "I found I could go around the outside and go just as fast. Your exit is a little bit compromised but if someone stuck it up the inside I'd run round the outside and you possibly didn't even lose a position because the next corner is a left-hander," he explained. "I think the people who were cutting down maybe didn't even realise the guy behind ... was looking to stick its nose in, and they were cutting down thinking they would get the exit shot and try and get the lead back at turn 5.

"It seemed like there was just a big disconnect between what was really going on and between drivers. Nobody was anticipating each other very well." Wilson said he expected that disconnect to last into Edmonton until there was greater clarity about what the overtaking car had to do. "We know the car being passed has just got to stay on the racing line," he said. "That car needs to understand what the car behind is doing, the car behind needs to live up to certain expectations. There just needs to be some rules, it needs to be sorted out a little bit more.

"We'll just have to take it one step at a time, I don't think there's a magic answer," he concluded. "I don't think we can do Toronto week-in, week-out - I think the team owners can't afford it!"

Hildebrand suggested that the track conditions in Toronto had ultimately been the biggest factor. "The track got away from us really quickly. The track at the end of the race was no where near as good as it was at the beginning of the race," he said, talking about the issues of keeping the tyres up to temperature through multiple restarts and the problem of pick-up making contact increasingly inevitable as the afternoon wore on. "Definitely just crazy racing, through and through, from beginning to end."

Looking ahead, Justin Wilson said he was eager to get to next weekend's second Canadian race, saying that the remodelled Edmonton City Center track "looks fun. We've still got that same infield section. They've kind of lengthened a few of the straights because they've flip-flopped it onto the other runway.

"I like the layout. It's going to be quite challenging to get a good car set-up and ultimately that makes it better racing," he added. "Quite a few overtaking spots - turn 1, turn 3, maybe turn 10 and 11 ... We're predicting right now [turn 11] is similar to a Long Beach hairpin, so big brake zone into a Long Beach hairpin - you could get a few crazy moves into there!

"It's going to promote racing, and it's typical Edmonton style - the fans will be able to see the whole track," he said. "It's going to be challenging!"


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