I have more than a touch of admiration for Dario Franchitti. He without a doubt in the top 5 drivers to come out of Britain since the likes of Damon Hill etc. Probably in the top 3 actually. Now it is difficult to do a straight comparison as the people I'd put him up there with are Lewis Hamilton (1 F1 world championship), Jenson Button (1 F1 world championship), Dan Wheldon RIP (1 IndyCar title, two Indy 500 wins) and Alan McNish (3 Le Mans 24 hours, 3 ALMS series championships).
Alan McNish had a brief F1 career with Toyota which whilst the biggest budget possibly in the paddock never seemed to have a car and engine that could be regular podium let alone winner material. But you could say Lewis and Jenson are better than him as they succeeded where he didn't maybe. Dan sadly never really got an F1 break and did turn down a chance to be a test driver however Dario's record arguably puts him ahead of Dan as they fought side by side in IndyCar for a while.
Dario failed to get to F1. He had a chance with the Jaguar team which later mutated into the all conquering Red Bull that has dominated the last 5 years in F1 but politics played a big part in him not getting the drive, even with accusations that the test he had was hampered deliberately by people inside the team with their own agendas. Shame I would have loved to see him in an F1 car.
Today in the UK this story isn't even making the main broadcast, the retirement of an Indian cricketer being deemed more newsworthy. Which is a real tragedy as the guy has a record that is mightily impressive. Just look at some of the F1 refugees who've gone to Indycar and not shined like Barrichello for example - there was a guy who just missed out on a World Championship only a few years before and he was running around mid-field. The front guys in Indycar are very much as good as the front half of the F1 field. I was privileged to be at Rockingham UK in 2002 when Dario won the CART
race there through a great drive and brilliant pit strategy.
So Dario I salute you, you went to the USA and took them on and came out a hero. It is such a shame that in the last two years we've lost the two best Brits in the series with Dan Wheldon's sad death and now this. Justin Wilson is doing a fine job and I hope he can step up and start to win like Dan and Dario did before.
The BBC have reported his retirement today.
Here is the reason why he cannot continue - his legs just can't recover from this one.