Barber Update: Kimball up front at halfway

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Ryan Hunter-Reay had been the class of the field in the first half of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama (currently on the NBC Sports Network), but pit stops for him and Will Power allowed Charlie Kimball to take the lead at Lap 44.

Pole sitter Hunter-Reay was ahead of a wild start at the green flag, as well as a multi-car, first-lap incident in Turns 7-8 that saw Graham Rahal spin out Oriol Servia and James Hinchcliffe sustain apparent suspension damage. Rahal and Servia managed to bring their wounded cars to pit road for repairs and came back out, but Hinchcliffe came to a stop shortly afterwards at Turn 3 and his No. 27 Andretti Autosport Chevrolet was towed behind the track.

While Hunter-Reay sailed off from his pursuers in the first stint, Kimball battled mightily for second place with Tristan Vautier in that same frame. Eventually, Vautier faded back into the field while Kimball stayed up toward the front.

Adding to the intrigue are the multiple pit strategies that are unfolding throughout the field, which is making for a very interesting race to follow.

 

Hartley to make F1 debut from back of grid after penalty

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Brendon Hartley’s hopes of a points finish on his Formula 1 debut took a hit on Friday after the FIA confirmed the Toro Rosso driver will start the United States Grand Prix from the back of the grid due to an engine penalty.

Porsche factory driver and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Hartley was drafted in by Toro Rosso as a surprise replacement for Pierre Gasly in Austin, with the Frenchman tied up with Super Formula duties at Suzuka this weekend.

Hartley took to the track in an official grand prix session for the first time on Friday in Austin, marking his first run-out in an F1 car since a test with Mercedes in 20120.

However, FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer confirmed in his pre-race report that changes had been made to the power unit on Hartley’s Toro Rosso car since the last race in Japan, triggering a grid penalty.

Toro Rosso elected to take a new internal combustion engine, MGU-H, energy store and control electronics on Hartley’s Renault power unit, totaling a 25-place grid drop that will be applied after qualifying. Confirmation of the penalty is set to follow later today.

The penalty comes as a setback for Hartley, but was necessary as Toro Rosso found itself short on engine elements to get to the end of the season.

Hartley is not the only driver to have a penalty confirmed, with Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne also taking new engine elements, also confirmed in Bauer’s report.

A new ICE, turbocharger and MGU-H for Hulkenberg will see him drop 20 places on the grid, while an eighth ICE of the year for Vandoorne will trigger a five-place drop.