Long Beach Update: Ryan Hunter-Reay still in control

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Ryan Hunter-Reay is halfway to his second career win at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, as he’s kept control of the proceedings after starting from the pole position.

The first standing start of the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series season had Hunter-Reay and Andretti Autosport teammate James Hinchcliffe on the front row.

But when the lights went out, Hinchcliffe got off slowly while Sebastien Bourdais charged past him to pick up second behind Hunter-Reay. Simon Pagenaud and Marco Andretti also leaped past Hinchcliffe on the opening lap.

But while Andretti faded back with apparent front wing damage, Hinchcliffe was able to make up some ground and got back to third at Lap 9 of 80.

Several drivers, including Graham Rahal and Tony Kanaan, opted to pit early in a bid to make a three-stop strategy work but the race stayed clean until Lap 27.

Just after he had made his first pit stop of the day, Bourdais appeared to lock up his brakes and went into the tires at Turn 8 while under heavy pressure from Hinchcliffe in third place.

On Lap 32, the race restarted but not cleanly as Graham Rahal got into the back of Justin Wilson at the Turn 11 hairpin and turned the Englishman around.

Rahal was given a drive-through penalty for avoidable contact, but Will Power did not suffer the same fate when he got into Pagenaud in a battle for position at Turn 6.

Pagenaud got the worse of the exchange as he went into the tires there and left with a banner wrapped around his left-front suspension and damaged front wing.

Meanwhile, the day got even worse for Bourdais as he was given his own drive-through penalty for pitting in a closed pit lane at Lap 35.

A short time later, he found trouble again when he slid into the tires at Turn 9 to bring out the caution flag just at halfway. Charlie Kimball’s Chevrolet engine then blew up, forcing the safety crew to push him behind the wall.

When the green came back out at Lap 46, Hunter-Reay was leading Hinchcliffe, Josef Newgarden, Will Power and Helio Castroneves.

Verstappen picks illegal Raikkonen pass as favorite F1 2017 overtake

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Max Verstappen has picked his illegal pass on Kimi Raikkonen on the final lap of the United States Grand Prix as his favorite overtake of the Formula 1 season.

Verstappen was one of F1’s most prolific passers through 2017, making 22 overtaking moves as per Pirelli’s end of year data.

When asked to pick out his favorite in a post-season interview on his official website, Verstappen picked his bold move on Raikkonen at the Circuit of The Americas that sparked controversy when he was penalized for completing the overtake off-track.

The Red Bull driver had charged from 16th on the grid to cross the line third, only for a five-second time penalty to deny him a podium and drop him to fourth in a snap call made before the post-race ceremony.

“Of course, at first your initial reaction is something like: ‘Why? It was a great move.’ But when you look at the rules, it was not correct,” Verstappen said.

“Nothing was by the book that whole weekend. Drivers were getting off track without being penalized for it. But you always need to focus on the positives: it was still a nice race and everyone enjoyed the excitement all the way down to the final lap.

“It’s always nice to be on the podium, but to finish fourth after having started sixteenth, is still a great result.

“It wasn’t as painful as most people thought it was. In the end I made my peace with it.”

Asked if it was his best move of the year, Verstappen said: “Yes, because this year I actually didn’t have that many overtakes.

“With this car you are actually only able to overtake on the straights, which is really not that satisfying compared to last year.”