Pastor Maldonado facing 10-place grid penalty at Suzuka

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Pastor Maldonado is set to be given a 10-place grid penalty by the stewards at Suzuka for this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix after Lotus changed the internal combustion engine on his E22 car today.

As part of the new engine regulations for the 2014 season, teams were permitted to use just five of each engine component across the course of the year.

However, with the new power units proving to be particularly troublesome, most of the drivers are expected to be hit with some sort of engine penalty before the end of the season.

In Italy, Daniil Kvyat became the first driver to use a sixth component, warranting a 10-place grid penalty. After qualifying 11th, the Russian driver dropped to 21st place on the grid at Monza.

Had he not been able to take the whole penalty in Italy, it would have been carried over to the next race in Singapore. Given Maldonado’s poor qualifying form this year, it is unlikely he will qualify any higher than 12th on Saturday, and is likely to take the overspill of the penalty to the Russian Grand Prix next weekend.

During practice on Friday, Maldonado enjoyed rather average sessions, finishing 17th in FP1 and 16th in FP2. However, he was pleased with how they went, and is still hopeful of a good result in spite of his penalty.

“I’m happy with today,” Maldonado said. “There were no issues with the car and the only problem I had was a vibration from my hard tires in the second session.

“Suzuka is a great circuit and I think we have quite good potential here. There’s some more pace to come and our car has looked quite reasonable.

“I will have a bigger challenge in the race as there will be a 10-place grid penalty as we’re now on to our sixth engine, but if we can race reliably then a good result is still possible.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay hired as replacement for Conor Daly at Ed Carpenter Racing

Ryan Hunter-Reay Carpenter
Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ryan Hunter-Reay was named to replace Conor Daly in Ed Carpenter Racing’s No. 20 Dallara-Chevrolet, starting in the NTT IndyCar Series event next week at Road America.

Hunter-Reay is the 2012 series champion and 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner. He finished 11th for Dreyer & Reinbold last month in the 107th Indy 500, his first start since the 2021 season finale. He drove full time for Andretti Autosport from 2010-21.

“We need to improve our competitiveness and I wanted to add a fresh perspective from a driver like Ryan who has a massive amount of experience and success as well as a reputation as a team leader. I am excited to welcome Ryan to the team,” team owner Ed Carpenter said in a team release. “We have worked together in the past as teammates and he tested for ECR at Barber Motorsports Park in October 2021, where he made an immediate impact as we were able to qualify one of our cars on the pole following that test. I am confident that his experience and technical abilities will be an asset to ECR as we move forward toward our goals as a team.”

Hunter-Reay has 18 IndyCar victories, most recently in 2018. He also is a winner in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, having been a part of winning entries in the 2020 Twelve Hours of Sebring and 2018 Petit Le Mans. Last year, he was an endurance driver for Cadillac Racing while being on standby for Chip Ganassi Racing.

He replaces Daly, whose departure was announced a day earlier in what the driver and team said was a mutual decision.

“I was surprised when I got the call from Ed,” Hunter-Reay said in a team release. “He described how frustrated he was that his team has not been able to realize its potential despite their efforts, investments, as well as technical and personnel changes over the past few years and asked for my help. Ed and I are very close friends and have been for a long time. I’ve worked with the team in the past and they are a very talented group with high expectations and a committed partner in BITNILE.COM.

“This will certainly be a challenge for me as well. It’s a tough situation jumping in a car in the middle of the season without any testing in what I believe to be the most competitive series in the world. Certainly, part of my motivation in saying ‘yes’ to Ed is the great challenge ahead. The last time I turned right driving an NTT IndyCar Series car was in October of 2021 with this team at Barber. However, I remain very confident in both my driving and technical abilities and believe by working with the talented people at ECR and Team Chevy, while representing BITNILE.COM, we will make progress. I am going to do everything I can do to help the team achieve its long-term objectives.”

Said Milton “Todd” Ault, the chairman of sponsor “It is great for to be aligned with an Indy 500 Winner and an NTT IndyCar Series champion. I have followed Ryan’s career for years and I am confident he will challenge the entire ECR team to perform at higher levels. I wish everyone luck at Road America.”