Saavedra fined $30,000 and RLL gets more penalties after Detroit


Emotion got the better of Sebastian Saavedra in the heat of the moment in the first race of the Chevrolet Indy Dual at Detroit. Turns out emotion got the better of his wallet, too.

The Colombian, in his second full season in the IZOD IndyCar Series and driver of the No. 6 TrueCar Chevrolet for Dragon Racing, was fined $30,000 on Thursday for making an improper gesture – the “double angry birds” – toward a fellow competitor. Marco Andretti contacted Saavedra and put him into the wall at the outside of Turn 4.

There is a precedent – Will Power was fined $30,000 for the same offense, directed at INDYCAR  race control at Loudon, N.H. in 2011. Yet interestingly, a dust-up between Power and E.J. Viso at Iowa last year where the two exchanged improper gestures, did not garner a penalty.

This offense is a violation of Rule of the 2013 INDYCAR rulebook, and Saavedra can work off the fine by “by making a series of public appearances on behalf of INDYCAR throughout the remainder of the season.”

Saavedra tweeted shortly thereafter: “Well.. quite an expensive one after @detroitgp I guess ill stop getting my everyday hair massage until I pay it off. Off to @TXMotorSpeedway.”

He wasn’t the only one docked. James Jakes’ Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing entry was fined a total of $10,000 for two rear wing infractions (Rules and Jakes had his best weekend yet in IndyCar with a second-place finish in race two and two top-five qualifying efforts. The RLL team had also been penalized both after qualifying and in-race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with the latter penalty rescinded by INDYCAR.

Jakes clarified via Twitter that the penalty was a post-qualifying, not post-race, violation: “Just to give everyone heads up it was a post qualifying fine not post race.”

Meanwhile Sebastien Bourdais and Will Power, two former Champ Car rivals, were each placed on probation for their dust-up in the Turn 1 pileup in race two. Power was penalized for improper actions toward a fellow competitor after contact during Race 2 (throwing his race gloves), and Bourdais was penalized for comments made toward Officials on pit road after Race 2. Power, somewhat cheekily, said Bourdais “once was a champ, and now is a chump” in his TV interview after the incident.

Mercedes: F1 teams need to work together to avoid split

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said Friday that Formula One teams have a responsibility to try to overcome their differences over the future of the sport in the face of a threat by Ferrari to quit because of a number of proposed changes.

Bernie Ecclestone, who ran F1 for 40 years before being replaced by new owners Liberty Media last year, has raised the possibility that Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne could walk away from F1 and form a breakaway series over Liberty’s future vision for the sport.

Ferrari is unhappy with Liberty’s proposal to simplify engines and redistribute prize money among F1 teams after the current contract with teams expires at the end of 2020.

Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene would not comment on the specifics of Marchionne’s previous comments at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Friday, but said: “My only suggestion, please take him seriously.”

Wolff is also taking the possibility of Ferrari walking away seriously. He told Britain’s Press Association before the Australian GP that he agreed with Marchionne’s concerns and that Formula One can’t afford to alienate Ferrari or lose the team.

“Don’t mess with Sergio Marchionne,” he said. “Formula One needs Ferrari much more than Ferrari needs Formula One.”

Wolff was more diplomatic on Friday, saying he hopes all sides could come together for the good of the sport.

“I think this as much a battle on track as much as it is a fight off track for an advantage,” he said. “It is clear the current governance and how the rules are being made is not very functional. There’s too much different opinions and agendas on the table and we need to sort it for 2021 for the best interest of the sport.”

Red Bull boss Christian Horner agreed there are too many competing agendas, suggesting that the FIA-Formula One’s governing body-and Liberty Media come together to decide on a set of regulations and financial framework for the next contract and the teams can then decide if they want to accept it or not.

“Trying to get a consensus between teams that have varying objectives, different set-ups, is going to be impossible,” he said. “It’s history repeating itself. It happens every five or six years, every time the Concorde Agreement comes up for renewal.”

Tempers also flared during Friday’s media conference over another issue of contention between the teams – Ferrari’s recent hiring of FIA’s ex-safety director, Laurent Mekies.

Horner believes Ferrari broke an agreement among teams at a recent meeting to institute a 12-month waiting period for any former employee of FIA or FOM (Formula One Management) to be able to start working for one of F1’s teams. The concern is that former FIA staff who go to work for a specific team could share secrets from other teams.

“Certain teams were pushing for that period to be three years, but in the end it was agreed upon being 12 months,” he said. “It almost makes those meetings pointless if we can’t agree on something and action it.”

Arrivabene defended Ferrari’s move, saying Mekies would not join its team until after a six-month “gardening leave” period.

“There is nothing wrong with that because we were absolutely respecting the local law, the Swiss local law where Laurent was hired,” he said.