Gutierrez ‘respects but disagrees with’ penalty

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Esteban Gutierrez was keen to stress he “respected” the FIA’s decision to penalize him during the Belgian Grand Prix even though he did not agree with it.

The Sauber racer was handed a drive-through penalty after running off the track at Blanchimont while overtaking Pastor Maldonado.

“I totally respect the FIA’s decision to penalize me for overtaking Pastor, but I don’t agree with the penalty,” said Gutierrez.

It was a frustrating weekend for the Sauber driver who showed pace in practice but was knocked out in the first part of qualifying and started from the back row of the grid.

“We lost a lot of time in the first stint with the traffic I encountered as I was coming from the back of the field,” he said. “The strategy we planed was not ideal, so we had to change it and that still wasn’t perfect.”

However Gutierrez says his car’s pace in the race has raised his hopes of scoring points before the end of the season: “To be able to fight and to extract the maximum today is good to know.”

“Now we have to improve in qualifying, because I think with the pace we have we can still fight for the top ten.”

NHRA Gatornationals: John Force has another spectacular motor explosion

Photo courtesy NHRA
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Legendary NHRA Funny Car driver John Force endured yet another spectacular motor explosion – his third in the NHRA’s first three national event races – during Friday’s qualifying at the Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida.

It’s the kind of consistency the 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ could do without.

The 68-year-old Force came to Gainesville hoping to break the jinx that saw him endure explosions in both the season-opening Winternationals and the second race of the season in Phoenix.

Both motor explosions sent Force to the hospital for examination before he returned to the race track.

Friday, even though the motor in his Chevrolet Camaro blew up again (in the second round of qualifying), at least this time, Force didn’t wind up in the hospital.

He did have his right hand bandaged from a cut suffered in the explosion, but did not have to go to the hospital this time.

He even joked about not having to add yet another ambulance bill to the nearest Gainesville hospital.

But the explosion still proved costly.

“That was another body and that hurts the financial (bottomline),” Force said. “I was out $500,000 to $600,000, and now we are probably out $800,000, going on a million. In drag racing, you have to be tough.”

He ended the day qualifying 14th, not a very comfortable position with two more rounds of qualifying set for Saturday.

Force continues to be mystified why the motors keep exploding.

“I really thought we had it, I thought we were there,” Force said. “In the first round we drove it 500 feet and shut it off. It looked great. We ran it again that run and I was only going to drive it 800 feet even if we didn’t make The Show.”

Force will attempt to improve his qualifying spot during Saturday’s final two rounds to make Sunday’s eliminations.

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