Sebastian Vettel to start United States GP from pit lane

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The FIA has confirmed that Sebastian Vettel will start this weekend’s United States Grand Prix from the pit lane after changing to a sixth complete power unit for the race in Austin.

For 2014, stricter engine regulations have come into force that penalize a driver for every extra component they use on the power unit above the allocation of five.

Vettel had been expected to change to a sixth complete power unit for this weekend’s race in Austin, and the FIA confirmed that this would be the case on Friday afternoon.

“Car #1 is required to start the race from the pit lane,” a statement from the stewards reads.

“The sixth complete power unit has been used by car #1. This is in breach of article 28.4 of the FIA Formula 1 Sporting Regulations.

“The requirement to start the race from the pit lane is imposed in accordance with article 28.4c. The team notified the technical delegate of the change to the power unit elements on Monday 27th October.”

As he will start the race from the pit lane, Vettel may opt not to complete any running during qualifying tomorrow at the Circuit of The Americas so that he can extend the life of the new unit.

Had he opted to change individual components on his engine, Vettel would have been hit with a 10-place grid penalty. However, as he is overhauling the entire unit, this harsher sanction has been imposed.

Should Vettel not take part in qualifying, just three cars will be at risk of being eliminated in Q1 in Austin after the FIA confirmed that it would be tweaking the qualifying format for the session on Saturday.

NBC/NBCSN SCHEDULE FROM UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX

Ben Hanley relieved to make Indy 500 debut

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Qualifying for the Indy 500 is never an easy task, especially for a new driver and team, and with 36 cars vying for 33 starting positions last weekend, 34-year-old rookie Ben Hanley knew there was a chance he and his DragonSpeed team would not make the show.

“I wouldn’t say we were very confident, but we wanted to [make the field],” Hanley told NBC Sports. “The biggest thing we were trying to achieve was to not be on track on Sunday in the shootout because it only takes one mistake or one little issue and that’s it, you’re not in the race.”

But Hanley would not have to worry about being bumped from the field. He qualified 27th after making three attempts on Day 1, which was enough to lock the No. 81 team into the show. Not too shabby for a driver and team making only their third NTT IndyCar Series start.

THE 103RD INDIANAPOLIS 500: Click here for how to watch, full daily schedules

“That last run everything just came together,” Hanley said. “We trimmed out a little bit more and found a good balance of trim and grip over four [qualifying] laps and it was enough to get us through.

“It was a huge relief to get through in P27. A massive achievement for everybody involved.”

Indeed it was a massive achievement, as DragonSpeed is one of the smallest teams in the garage, with no corporate sponsors and a tiny team of around 20 personnel. Many of those were picked up by the team just a week before qualifying, when members of the team’s regular crew were denied entry into the United States due to visa issues after leaving a sports car race in Italy.

“It was all down to the team organizing some people who were in and around Indianapolis who weren’t needed for the race weekend,” Hanley said. “Obviously, I don’t think many people are going to refuse the chance to work on a car that’s trying to qualify for the 500.”

Though the team made its first Indy 500 on Day 1 of qualifying, the DragonSpeed team did not spend Saturday night out late celebrating. Instead, Hanley said the extra time was spent preparing for the race.

“We went straight on to race prep then for the car, so Sunday was a good day for the guys to take time to prep the car into the race spec and get everything sorted out in a nice, organized manner.”

Following the Indy 500, DragonSpeed will run two other races this season at Road America and Mid-Ohio. The team is hopeful that a good run at Indy will result in an opportunity to run a bigger schedule next season and attract sponsors.

Hanley stated that though he’s happy to have made the Indy 500 starting grid for the first time in his career, the magnitude of his feat hasn’t hit him yet.

“It hasn’t really soaked in yet,” he said. “I think it will soak in on Sunday when we roll out to the grid.

“It was such a huge relief to not be involved in Bump Day. Even just watching [Bump Day] it was intense, especially with the weather. I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like to be involved in that.”

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