Three in-race drive-through penalties were issued during Sunday’s contact-filled Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT.
Helio Castroneves committed a pit safety infraction when he hit one of his own Team Penske crewmembers, while Oriol Servia (hit Sebastien Bourdais on a Lap 57 restart) and Will Power (contacted Scott Dixon on a Lap 53 restart) were each guilty of avoidable contact.
There were two other contact points from Baltimore that needed further clarification. On Lap 48, Graham Rahal moved to Scott Dixon’s inside at Turn 1 but the two made contact, which pitched Dixon into a spin. Later on Lap 63, Bourdais contacted Justin Wilson at Turn 3. Both incidents created a track blockage and caused a full-course caution, but neither Rahal nor Bourdais were issued a drive-through penalty for avoidable contact.
I sent a text to IndyCar Race Director Beaux Barfield asking for further clarification on those non-calls. In Rahal’s case, Race Control viewed Car 15 (Rahal) established alongside Car 9 (Dixon), so Car 9 was not entitled to go all the way to the apex.
On the Bourdais/Wilson contact, Bourdais, Car 7, needed to adjust to avoid Car 27 (James Hinchcliffe) and contacted Car 19 (Wilson) in the process.
On Monday, the Formula 1 schedule finally allowed teams to be in Europe before heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s season finale.
And as such, that provided a window for now four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to return to the Mercedes AMG Petronas factories in Brackley and Brixworth to be celebrated for taking the driver’s title, as Hamilton an Valtteri Bottas delivered Mercedes its fourth straight constructor’s title.
Hamilton was at Brixworth, the home of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and its highly successful Mercedes-Benz Power Units first before heading to Brackley, where he was welcomed with a “guard of honor” as the entire team came out to greet him.
The champion was overwhelmed at the response and the welcome.
“This a very emotional day. I was not expecting this, thanks everyone for the warm welcome,” he said. “Today is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me – I’m blown away.
“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone. I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me. Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100%, which encourages me to bring my best performance.
“Thank you all for helping me achieve my dreams, it would not have been possible without you. This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had – that just makes it so much greater.”
A social roundup of images and videos are below, all via Hamilton and the Mercedes team on social media.