Verizon IndyCar Series rookie Jack Hawksworth has taken control of the Grand Prix of Indianapolis after its inaugural running on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course began with a violent crash at the standing start.
Hawksworth started on the front row alongside pole sitter Sebastian Saavedra, but when the lights went out to begin the race, Saavedra stalled and was hit from behind by Carlos Munoz and then Mikhail Aleshin.
Mike Conway sustained some damage in the incident but has since returned to action, albeit well off the pace. Juan Pablo Montoya also stalled on the start but avoided the crash and has put himself into the Top 10.
After an extended clean-up period to corral debris, Ryan Hunter-Reay led the field to the green flag at Lap 8 and almost immediately, a free-for-all ensued up and down the 2.4-mile road course as cars went two and even three-wide for position off the restart.
One lap later, Hawksworth went to the inside of Hunter-Reay at the right-hand Turn 1 and took the lead away from the former series champion.
A few turns later, Simon Pagenaud peeled second off of Hunter-Reay, and that was the order of the Top 3 for the rest of the stint as Hawksworth began what has been an impressive drive so far.
Hawksworth pitted from the lead on Lap 29, but got it back when Dale Coyne Racing teammates Justin Wilson and Carlos Huertas pitted together from first and second on Lap 32 to end the pit cycle under green.
At the halfway point, Hawksworth had opened up a lead on Pagenaud of almost four seconds, while Hunter-Reay again settled in third. On Lap 42, a battle for fourth between Will Power and Scott Dixon ended with Dixon going into the runoff area, triggering a full-course caution.
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.