UPDATE (2:50 p.m. ET): On Lap 47 of today’s Race 2 of the Shell/Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston, Helio Castroneves returned to competition after a cracked gearbox housing on his car forced a lengthy repair from his Team Penske crew in the paddock.
Castroneves is currently running 24th – dead last – at 38 laps off the pace.
ORIGINAL: For the second time in two days, a mechanical problem has had a devastating impact on Helio Castroneves’ quest for the IZOD IndyCar Series championship.
After finishing 18th in yesterday’s Race 1 of the Shell/Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston due to a lengthy gear cluster repair on his No. 3 Team Penske Chevrolet, Castroneves lost power today on Lap 12 and came to a stop on course.
Prior to that point, Scott Dixon – who was running close behind Castroneves in the early fight for the lead – had been complaining of oil leaking from Castroneves’ gearbox.
When Castroneves was returned to pit road, the Team Penske crew discovered a cracked gearbox housing on the No. 3 car according to Jon Beekhuis of NBCSN.
“Probably around the third or fourth lap, I felt a little vibration behind me every time I was shifting gears,” Castroneves told Beekhuis afterwards. “I was trying to keep my mind off of it, not think about it. I was trying to be as smooth as possible with Dixon behind me.
“And all of a sudden, I went to third gear on the backstraight and – nothing. I’m very disappointed for the Shell/Pennzoil boys, they did a hell of a job. But we just gotta think about Fontana now.”
Diaz (right) is another prototype class veteran, with recent PC experience (8Star Motorsports and PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports) added to his LMP2 days with Fernandez Racing.
All three of them also competed in Champ Car World Series races in Mexico City, with Gonzalez and Diaz part of a six-Mexican driver entry in the 2003 race (Adrian Fernandez, Michel Jourdain Jr., Mario Dominguez and Rodolfo Lavin).
Ricardo Gonzalez co-drives the No. 43 RGR Sport Ligier JS P2 Nissan with Bruno Senna and Filipe Albuquerque in the WEC.
Around two-thirds of the Formula E grid also race in the WEC, with the two championships preventing clashes so that drivers do not have to pick between them. As a result, it seems inevitable that one of the races will have to change date.
Jolyon Palmer felt “gutted” after a likely top-10 finish in Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix was lost following a spin in the closing stages, costing him his first Formula 1 points.
2014 GP2 champion Palmer joined Renault for its return to F1 as a constructor in 2016, but arrived in Hungary without a point to his name from the opening 10 races of the season.
Palmer was left disappointed on Saturday after a red flag knocked him out of qualifying at the first hurdle, but a long first stint brought him into contention for points.
Palmer moved into the top 10 after jumping Nico Hulkenberg in the pits, only for Renault’s hard work to be undone when he spun off at Turn 4, losing three positions in the process.
The Briton was ultimately classified 12th after Esteban Gutierrez’s time penalty, extending his points drought to 11 races.
“I’m gutted as my first points in Formula 1 were there for the taking,” Palmer said.
“The car was good and I was driving well within myself in P10. I turned in the same as normal at turn four – I wasn’t hanging everything out and I was looking after the tires – but for some reason I lost the car in a massive snap.
“I need to look at everything with my engineers to see if there is anything we could have done to prevent it.
“I was running tenth, we had completed all our pit stops, we had good pace relative to those ahead and behind so it looks like we’ve made a real step forward this weekend.
“It was the best drive of my career today and just one small spin took away those points.
“I’m gutted today but I’ll be fighting to get in the same position or better in Hockenheim.”