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Techeetah claims Gutierrez breached contract by quitting Formula E

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BERLIN, Germany – The Techeetah Formula E team has accused Esteban Gutierrez of breaching his contract after quitting the all-electric championship in order to take up a drive in the Verizon IndyCar Series with Dale Coyne Racing.

After losing his drive in Formula 1 with Haas at the end of last year, Gutierrez announced in January that he would be entering Formula E, making his debut with Techeetah in Mexico City at the beginning of April.

The Mexican took part in just three Formula E races before departing to take up a seat in IndyCar with Dale Coyne Racing, replacing the injured Sebastien Bourdais in the No. 18 Honda for the Detroit race last weekend.

Gutierrez has not been formally confirmed for the rest of the IndyCar season and will miss this weekend’s race in Texas as he has not been able to complete an oval test, but is expected to take the seat until Bourdais returns.

There was some confusion upon arrival in Berlin as Gutierrez’s replacement, Stephane Sarrazin, did not receive approval to race for Techeetah from the stewards until Friday afternoon.

Formula E teams are required to nominate their drivers two weeks in advance of a race, putting Techeetah and Venturi – Sarrazin’s former team – in breach of this regulation.

Techeetah argued that the breach was “a result of an alleged breach of contract between the driver and the competitor,” which the stewards accepted.

“It was reported to the Stewards that the nominated driver Mr. Esteban Gutierrez breached his contract with the competitor Techeetah and decided to compete in another series which conflicted with Formula E Championship,” a stewards note reads.

“The stewards in accordance with ISC 12.2.6 will refer this alleged breach of contract to the FIA International Tribunal.”

When approached by NBC Sports, Techeetah declined to comment on the matter.

Venturi has been hit with a €5,000 fine for also breaching the same regulation by drafting in Tom Dillmann to replace Sarrazin for the remainder of the season.

Ricciardo set to see Dale Jr.’s final Texas ride in two weeks (VIDEO)

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We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.

And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.

After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.

In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.

Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.

“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.

“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.

“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”

Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.

“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”

Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.