Jean-Eric Vergne has been handed a twenty second time penalty following an incident with Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez at the end of today’s United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas.
Whilst Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel charged to an eighth straight victory at the head of the field, Vergne endured a lacklustre race outside of the top ten. However, he found himself in the running for a solitary point in the last few laps as Daniel Ricciardo, Jenson Button and Esteban Gutierrez fought with the Frenchman for tenth position. Eventually that position went to Ricciardo, but Vergne found himself coming under pressure from Gutierrez for position on the exit of turn twelve. The two made contact and the Sauber driver pirouetted into the gravel as a result, eventually crossing the line in fourteenth place.
However, the stewards soon confirmed that they were investigating the incident, and deemed Vergne to be responsible. As a result, he was handed a twenty second time penalty, meaning that he drops from P12 on track down to P16 in the final classification.
Vergne is set to be replaced in FP1 for next weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix by youngster Daniil Kvyat, who will be his teammate in 2014.
SMP Racing has publicly unveiled its new BR1 LMP1 car that will enter the FIA World Endurance Championship from 2018.
SMP Racing opted to pull out of racing full-time in the WEC for 2017 in order to focus on its preparations for an LMP1 entry the following year, with the decision being taken long in advance of Porsche’s exit announcement.
Officials from the Russian-backed SMP Racing, as well as drivers including recent IndyCar racer Mikhail Aleshin (sporting a broken arm in a sling), Vitaly Petrov and Sergey Sirotkin were all on hand to unveil the car on Friday in the Bahrain International Circuit paddock ahead of this weekend’s WEC finale.
The BR Engineering BR1 features a Dallara chassis and an AER engine, and has completed over 2,000 km in private testing, with further running set to be completed in the coming weeks.
SMP Racing plans to field two cars in the WEC’s LMP1 class next year, and is keen to get as many Russian drivers as possible in the seats from its wide pool of talent.
Even with Porsche’s departure from LMP1, the class is set to feature a bigger field thanks to the increased number of privateers moving up, with Toyota set to remain the sole manufacturer in the class.