INDYCAR updates rulebook on restarts, penalties and tire damage

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INDYCAR has announced some updates to the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series rulebook, which will be effective this weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The updates focus on three particulars: Restarts, race procedure penalties, and tires.

They are as follows:

Race Restart – In the event of a restart with 15 laps or less remaining in the race, all lapped cars will be moved to the rear of the field. (Rule 7.6.1.2).

Race Procedure Penalties – If circumstances do not permit for a penalty to be served during a race, the Race Director shall declare the race results provisional and officials will review the penalty.  This review is independent of technical inspection. (Rule 9.2.2).

Tires – If a car receives tire damage due to contact during a race, the two-lap requirement for that type of tire will be considered fulfilled (Rule 14.14.6.6.5).

The updates come after multiple late-race issues emerged last month during the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader.

As you’ll recall, Dario Franchitti finished third in the first race of that weekend but was then called for blocking on the final lap and given a time penalty that sent him to 13th. However, after additional evidence was reviewed by INDYCAR, the penalty was overturned and Franchitti was given his original result back. It would appear that the penalty update to the rulebook will aim to keep problems like this from happening again.

Then in the second Toronto race, Franchitti switched from the option “red” tires to the primary “black” tires after getting caught in a first-lap incident. INDYCAR rules state that on road/street courses, all drivers must run at least two green-flag laps on both the reds and blacks, but Franchitti ran on blacks the rest of the way.

The matter caused confusion until it was disclosed that after a competition meeting, it was decided that during doubleheader weekends, teams could run just one lap and meet the requirement as long as there was legitimate damage to one of the tires. The new amendment on tires to the rulebook would appear to address that matter.

Hartley happy with ‘big progression’ on first day with Toro Rosso

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With 69 laps completed (28 in free practice one and 41 in free practice two) and respectable lap times in both sessions, Brendon Hartley quickly acclimated to a modern day Formula 1 chassis in his first run with Scuderia Toro Rosso in Friday practice for the United States Grand Prix.

The Porsche factory driver has been drafted into the team following a convoluted series of musical chairs that sees Daniil Kvyat back after a two-race absence, Carlos Sainz Jr. now at Renault and Pierre Gasly racing at the Super Formula season finale in Suzuka.

Over the time in the car today, Hartley experienced changeable conditions in FP1 before a more normal FP2, and discovered the new F1 cockpit after a day learning in the garage yesterday.

“A steep learning curve today! It all went pretty smoothly and I kept the car on track without making too many mistakes, so I’m quite happy,” the New Zealander reflected at day’s end.

“I didn’t really know what to expect from today because I just had so much to learn! I think I made quite a big progression throughout the day.

“The biggest difference from what I’m used to is the high-speed grip, it’s incredible here in Formula 1…it was quite an eye-opener! Another challenge are the tires, which are also quite different to what I’m used to. On the other hand, the long-run looks quite positive and I did a good job managing the tires there – the biggest thing I need to work on now is the new tire pace, and I’ll get another crack at it tomorrow morning before qualifying.

“All in all, I’d say it’s all coming together. We’ll now work hard and go through plenty of data tonight and hopefully I’ll make another step forward tomorrow.”

His best lap was 1.1 seconds up on Friday driver Sean Gelael, the Indonesian Formula 2 driver, in FP1 (1:39.267 to 1:40.406, good enough for 14th) and 1.1 seconds off the returning Kvyat in FP2 (1:37.987 to 1:36.761, good enough for 17th). Interestingly, the Gelael/Hartley combination in FP1 marked the second time in three races that Toro Rosso had a pair of drivers in its cars without a single Grand Prix start between them – Gasly’s debut at Malaysia was the other, when he and Gelael were in in FP1.

Coming into Friday’s running, Hartley said he was more ready for this opportunity now than he had been as a teenager. He admitted he’d called Red Bull’s Helmut Marko in the wake of Porsche’s LMP1 withdrawal news earlier this year to say he was game for any chance that might come.

“I’m a lot stronger than I was back then, basically. I wasn’t ready at 18 years old. I like to think I’m ready now,” he said.

“I haven’t driven a single-seater since 2012, but I like to think that Porsche LMP1 has hopefully prepared me well.”

As for the rest of his weekend, it’s been made more complicated by Hartley being assessed a 25-spot grid penalty, even though Hartley had done nothing to accrue the penalties.

The roundabout sequence of driver changes at Toro Rosso saw Gasly replace Kvyat, Kvyat replace Sainz, and now Hartley replace Gasly, as is outlined by NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton below.