Maldonado excluded from qualifying for fuel breach

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Pastor Maldonado has been excluded from qualifying for the British Grand Prix after the stewards deemed that there was an insufficient amount of fuel left in his Lotus at the end of the session.

The regulations state that each car must be able to provide a one litre fuel sample at the end of qualifying in order to be classified, and after being investigated, the stewards have confirmed that Maldonado’s Lotus E22 did not have enough to meet this requirement.

A statement from the stewards reads:

“There was an insufficient amount of fuel to provide a one litre fuel sample and therefore this is in breach of article 6.6.2 of the FIA Formula 1 Technical Regulations.

“The competitor is, however, allowed to start the race from the back of the grid in front of any cars that failed to set a time within 107% of the fastest time in Q1.”

As a result, Maldonado will start the race from 20th position ahead of the two Caterham drivers.

The Venezuelan driver had qualified in 15th place on Saturday at Silverstone, but his car ground to a halt at the end of the session when it ran out of fuel.

“We had a lack of fuel during the second qualifying session which meant I had to stop the car out on track,” Maldonado explained. “The team are investigating to find out what happened as otherwise the car felt good and we had a strong opportunity to be in the top ten.

“The pace was certainly there this morning and the car was doing what I wanted it to do. We had a good strategy through the difficult weather conditions today so naturally I’m a bit disappointed with where we ended up on the grid.”

Unfortunately for Pastor, he’ll now drop another five places behind the Ferrari and Williams drivers.

Back of the grid for the British GP

14. Valtteri Bottas Williams
15. Felipe Massa Williams
16. Fernando Alonso Ferrari
17. Max Chilton Marussia
18. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari
19. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber
20. Pastor Maldonado Lotus
21. Marcus Ericsson Caterham
22. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham

Coyne transitioning from underdog to Indy 500 threat

Photo: IndyCar
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For most of the team’s existence, Dale Coyne Racing has been the Chicago Cubs of American Open Wheel Racing – a team whose history was more defined by failures, at times comically so, than success.

The last decade, however, has seen the tide completely change. In 2007, they scored three podium finishes with Bruno Junqueira. In 2009, they won at Watkins Glen with the late Justin Wilson.

The combination won again at Texas Motor Speedway in 2012, and finished sixth in the 2013 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. That same year, Mike Conway took a shock win for them in Race 1 at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit.

Carlos Huertas scored an upset win for them in Race 1 at the Houston double-header in 2014, and while 2015 and 2016 yielded no wins, Tristan Vautier and Conor Daly gave them several strong runs – Vautier’s best finish was fourth in Race 2 at Detroit, while Daly finished second in Race 1 at Detroit, finished fourth at Watkins Glen, and scored a trio of sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Race 2 at Detroit, and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

And 2017 was set to possibly be the best year the team has ever had. Sebastien Bourdais gave the team a popular win in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and then rookie Ed Jones scored back-to-back top tens – 10th and sixth – at St. Pete and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to start his career.

But, things started unraveling at the Indianapolis 500. Bourdais appeared set to be in the Fast Nine Pole Shootout during his first qualifying run – both of his first two laps were above 231 mph –  before his horrifying crash in Turn 2.

While Jones qualified an impressive 11th and finished an even more impressive third, results for the rest of the season became hard to come by – Jones only scored two more Top 10s, with a best result of seventh at Road America.

But, retooled for 2018, the Coyne team is a legitimate threat at the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Bourdais, whose No. 18 Honda features new sponsorship from SealMaster and now ownership partners in Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan, has a win already, again at St. Pete, and sits third in the championship.

And Bourdais may also be Honda’s best hope, given that he was the fastest Honda in qualifying – he’ll start fifth behind Ed Carpenter, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, and Josef Newgarden.

“I think it speaks volumes about their work, their passion and their dedication to this program, Dale (Coyne), Jimmy (Vasser) and Sulli (James Sullivan) and everybody from top to bottom. I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity, for the support,” Bourdais said of the team’s effort.

Rookie Zachary Claman De Melo has been progressing nicely, and his Month of May has been very solid – he finished 12th at the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS Road Course and qualified a strong 13th for the “500.”

“It’s been surreal to be here as rookie. I’m a bit at a loss for words,” Claman De Melo revealed after qualifying. “The fans, driving around this place, being with the team, everything is amazing. I have a great engineer, a great group of experienced mechanics at Dale Coyne Racing.”

While Conor Daly and Pippa Mann struggled in one-off entries, with Mann getting bumped out of the field in Saturday qualifying, Daly’s entry essentially puts three Coyne cars in the race – Daly’s No. 17 United States Air Force Honda is a Dale Coyne car that has been leased to Thom Burns Racing.

Rest assured, the days of Coyne being an “also ran” are long gone, and a Coyne car ending up in Victory Lane at the biggest race of the year would complete the Chicago Cubs analogy – the Cubs won a World Series title in 2016, and an Indy 500 triumph would be the crowning achievement in Coyne’s career.

Follow@KyleMLavigne