Some controversy emerges over red flag timing during IndyCar qualifying

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Qualifying for an IndyCar road or street course race will always leave some drivers unhappy and feeling as though they “got screwed.” Friday’s mixed wet-dry qualifying for the first race in the Chevrolet Indy Dual at Detroit was no different.

At the end of the wet Q1, Charlie Kimball crashed on the exit of Turn 2, and slid down to Turn 3. He pulled off course, and the session remained green for full course but with a local yellow in Turn 3.

All drivers bar Sebastien Bourdais (pictured) – who’s making his 100th open-wheel start this weekend – didn’t slow down, and the Dragon Racing driver felt slighted as he tumbled down the timesheets to eighth in his group.

“I’m pretty unhappy,” Bourdais fumed to IndyCar Radio. “There was the local yellow, and everyone bettered their lap. It’s total BS; it’s not right. No one is doing anything about it. I let off and I got screwed.”

The drama continued into Q2, when Helio Castroneves spun at the exit of Turn 3 and could not restart. The Team Penske driver couldn’t find the reverse gear, then got out of his car. Several drivers made it through under a local yellow, before IndyCar Race Control threw a red flag moments afterwards.

“We expected a fair shot,” A.J. Foyt Racing’s Takuma Sato told IndyCar Radio. “It was a local yellow. Then they kept going with no condition change, then went red for no reason. Then they stopped. It wasn’t fair and was an interesting qualifying, and we’re not happy.”

The usually unflappable Simon Pagenaud of HP Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports was nearly apoplectic about the change.

“There was danger on the race track,” Pagenaud admitted to IndyCar Radio. “But you don’t do yellow then red; then everyone gets hosed. We respected the rules. We’re starting ninth and had the chance to move higher. It’s not a fair way of refereeing. It’s very rare I raise my voice.”

As for Castroneves, he was more frustrated with himself than anything else.

“What I did in the car, I didn’t turn it back,” he told IndyCar Radio. “I locked the rear and spun. My frustration wasn’t with the spin, I just couldn’t find reverse. I did whatever they were telling me and the car never had the opportunity to get there. You get forward, backwards, and then stall it. The fricking reverse didn’t work!”

‘Still quite early’ for Ricciardo to think about Red Bull F1 future

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Daniel Ricciardo feels it is “still quite early” to make a decision about his Red Bull Formula 1 future despite seeing teammate Max Verstappen announce on Friday he would be staying with the team until 2020.

Verstappen, 20, put pen to paper on an enhanced F1 contract with Red Bull, with his previous deal due to expire at the end of next season in parallel to Ricciardo’s own agreement.

Ricciardo was asked following practice on Friday why he is yet to strike a new deal for himself with Red Bull, and explained he is in no rush to make a final decision when he has over a year to run on his current contract.

“It’s not that I’ve said no to anything. It’s just still quite early I think,” Ricciardo explained.

“People talked a little bit about contracts and the silly season for next year, but I thought that would still happen next year. It’s still quite early.

“If I’m to try and extract some positives out of his news it’s that it gives us good confidence for next year. He and his management see a lot of positives in the team to continue like that.

“I’m 100 per cent here next year, I can at least say that, and I think it gives both of us confidence that we’ll keep progressing the way we are.”

Red Bull said upon announcing Verstappen’s new deal that it wants to “build a team around him”, with the 20-year-old standing out as a once-in-a-generation talent.

The focus surrounding Verstappen has not left Ricciardo feeling as though he is in the shade or in any way playing second-fiddle to the Dutchman, stressing he has no internal concerns at Red Bull.

“For sure, as far as media goes, he certainly gets a lot of attention. He’s broken records for his age and things like that, so rightly so,” Ricciardo said.

“Take the media out of it, as far as inside the team, new parts on the car, things like this, there’s always been parity and equality.”

Verstappen is only the third driver to commit to a deal beyond the end of next season, following Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari and Fernando Alonso at McLaren on multi-year contracts.

All 10 F1 teams have at least one free seat for 2019, making Ricciardo a possible candidate for seats with either Mercedes or Ferrari were he to consider a move away from Red Bull.

Speaking to British broadcaster Sky Sports, Red Bull F1 advisor Helmut Marko said he felt Ricciardo was “putting himself on the market” by waiting to make a decision on his future, but that talks would take place when possible.