IndyCar race director Beaux Barfield has spoken out on Takuma Sato’s driving maneuvers during the final laps of Sunday’s Sao Paulo Indy 300, in which the ex-Formula One racer used some borderline moves to repel attempts from Josef Newgarden and James Hinchcliffe to take his lead.
In comments made to The Indianapolis Star, Barfield said that Sato was mostly following the curve of Sao Paulo’s backstretch, where he appeared to move toward the inside to stymie both Newgarden and Hinchcliffe. Race Control reviewed Sato on both counts but opted not to penalize him, and Hinchcliffe managed to get past Sato in the final corner on the last lap to take the win.
In addition, Barfield maintains that camera angles were unable to give him and his team enough to decide whether Sato moved along with his pursuers in mere defense or in reaction to their attempts. With no clear evidence in their eyes, Race Control opted to let the drivers duke it out.
“He was aggressive [and] right on the edge,” Barfield said. “We looked at so many clips after the race and to (discuss) specifically, they run together. A couple made it really difficult to call.”
As for the matter of his officiating style so far in 2013, Barfield said he’s decided to give the drivers more leeway because of no major incidents and also because of the strong racing product.
“Letting the race play out — Don’t let the officiating dominate the story,” he said in summing up his current approach.
Nonetheless, even though Hinchcliffe won in what would appear to be a case of “all’s well that ends well,” Barfield still took some criticism. Most notable were tweets from the Target Chip Ganassi Racing duo of Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti (which you can find here), who both expressed displeasure on the subject.