Ricciardo denies gaining advantage by going off-track

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Daniel Ricciardo said he did not gain an advantage by going off the track while passing Adrian Sutil during the Japanese Grand Prix.

Ricciardo took to the run-off on the outside of the high-speed 130R corner as he overtook the Force India driver on lap 26.

The stewards ruled Ricciardo had gained an advantage by leaving the circuit and handed him a drive-through penalty. But after the race Ricciardo said going off the track hadn’t helped him.

“I made a move on the outside of Sutil at the 130R and got past him,” he explained. “But after that, I ran wide onto the grass, which lost me a bit of time.”

“Sadly, the Stewards decided I had gained an advantage by going off the track and had to take a drive-through penalty, which of course ruined my race.”

Ricciardo was using a different strategy to his rivals having started the race on the hard tyres.

“I am disappointed not to have scored some points because I am convinced I was heading for the top ten,” he said, “which would have been an encouraging result, after struggling with the balance of the car on Saturday.”

“We started on the hard tyre and after I made a good start to move up two places, it was looking good as I passed Bottas on the track and moved up the order as those on the medium pitted ahead of me.”

But the penalty ended his hopes of a top ten finish. “I was ninth when I came in for the penalty and it dropped me down outside the points.”

NHRA: Brittany Force cleared to race this weekend in Phoenix after bad wreck 2 weeks ago

Photo: John Force Racing
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Drag racing is a Force family tradition. So, too, is not keeping a Force family member down.

Just 12 days after the most serious wreck of her six-year drag racing career, Brittany Force and John Force Racing announced late Thursday afternoon that the defending 2017 NHRA Top Fuel champion has been medically cleared and will indeed race in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.

“I flew into Phoenix early this (Thursday) morning and headed straight out to the race track to meet up with my team,” Force said. “I suited up and got belted back into my car that I ran all last season.

“It honestly felt good to be strapped back in and I was surprised how comfortable I was. I’m looking forward to getting back in my car tomorrow (Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying) and getting back in the swing of things with my guys.”

The 31-year-old Force, one of four daughters of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force, suffered a concussion and bruising after the hard crash she was involved in on February 11 in the first round of eliminations of the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals in Pomona, California.

Shortly after leaving the starting line in a race vs. Terry Haddock, Force’s dragster crossed from the right to left lanes, impacted the retaining wall with a very hard lateral crash, bounced off, spun, went on its side and briefly caught fire after crossing the finish line wheels-up.

While she is still recovering from the bruising, Force feels strong enough to get back behind the wheel. Getting back in the race car could be the best medicine of all, since she has three runner-up finishes in Phoenix, including back-to-back second-place showings in both the 2016 and 2017 national events.

The three-day event kicks off Friday with qualifying rounds at 4 and 6:30 p.m. ET, the same times as Saturday’s qualifying. Final eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.