Verstappen defends decision to defy STR team orders

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Max Verstappen has defended his decision to defy team orders from Scuderia Toro Rosso in the closing stages of Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix en route to eighth place.

Verstappen stalled off the line, leaving him in need of a push back to the pit lane where his mechanics restarted the car and sent him out into the race, albeit a lap down on the leaders.

A safety car period allowed the Dutchman to unlap himself before rising back up through the field, running just inside the top ten in the closing stages of the race.

However, he was quickly being caught by teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. on fresher tires, and with a few laps to go, the team gave Verstappen the call to move over and let the Spaniard past so he could try and attack Sergio Perez ahead.

Verstappen reacted angrily to this, though, shouting “no!” back across the radio. The team asked him a second time, but once again he refused. He eventually crossed the line over one second clear of Sainz to finish the race eighth.

“My pace was great and once again I really enjoyed all the overtaking,” Verstappen said after the race. “I don’t think there was any reason for me to give up my position.

“After going from being one lap behind to being back in the points, I think I deserved that P8.”

Sainz was less impressed by Verstappen’s decision, and claimed that he would have given the position back to the Dutchman had he failed to pass Perez if he’d been given the chance.

“After seeing him try to overtake him for 10 laps, I just thought maybe I could try during one lap, and if I hadn’t been able to I would’ve given the position back to Max,” Sainz explained.

“I just wanted my chance, but he decided not to give it to me. It’s something we need to talk about as a team.”

Speaking after the race, team boss Franz Tost backed Verstappen’s decision, saying that Sainz had not got close enough to warrant being allowed to pass.

“At the end of the race, we thought that Carlos would catch Max faster, because he had new option tires on, while Max had fitted used options,” Tost said.

“Therefore, we calculated that Carlos could’ve had a better chance to attack Perez, but he didn’t close the gap to Max well enough to really demonstrate that he could do this, so there was no reason to end up swapping their positions.”

Indianapolis Motor Speedway can have 10,000 fans for IndyCar races

Indianapolis Motor Speedway fans
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Indianapolis Motor Speedway will have crowds for its NTT IndyCar Series race weekend next month, the first time fans are allowed at the track this year.

The track announced Friday that up to 10,000 fans will be allowed in the grandstands daily from Oct. 1-4. The IndyCar Harvest GP race doubleheader will be held on the track’s road course Oct. 2-3.

IMS has played host to several events this year without fans, including the 104th Indianapolis 500 on Aug. 23 and a NASCAR-IndyCar weekend July 4-5 that included the Brickyard 400. Plans originally were made to have fans at the Indy 500 before reversing course a few weeks ahead of the race. In a letter last month, Roger Penske vowed that fans would return for the 2021 Indy 500.

“We can’t wait to see fans come through our gates for the first time in 2020,” IMS president Doug Boles said in a release. “They’ll be greeted by a vastly improved facility, featuring significant upgrades to the spectator experience. We’re also extremely grateful to have a presenting sponsor with the expertise and resources of GMR as we look to implement our detailed and comprehensive health and safety plan.”

Fans will undergo temperature screenings upon entry and also be required to wear face coverings at all times on property. The track said each attendee will receive a mask and bottle of hand sanitizer.

The Friday, Oct. 2 race will be shown at 3:30 p.m. ET on USA, and NBC will broadcast the Saturday, Oct. 3 race at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Here’s the release from Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020 – For the first time in 2020, Indianapolis Motor Speedway will welcome fans to the Racing Capital of the World for the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR weekend. Up to 10,000 spectators can be in the grandstands each day of racing action Oct. 1-4, per approval from the Marion County Public Health Department.

Tickets are available now via IMS.com and will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

The massive facility, which holds more than 300,000 people, will provide two spectator zones with up to 5,000 fans in each. The zones will be located in Turns 1 and 4 of the oval, offering strong sightlines of the road course. Strict health and safety rules will be in place, including the following:

  • Face coverings must be worn throughout the property at all times;
  • All fans will receive temperature screenings before gate entry;
  • Grandstand seats will be marked for distancing;
  • Attendees must use pre-assigned gates and remain in their designated zones.

Global Medical Response, the world leader in compassionate, quality emergency medical and patient relocation services, will be the presenting sponsor of the penultimate weekend of INDYCAR racing this season.

“We can’t wait to see fans come through our gates for the first time in 2020,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “They’ll be greeted by a vastly improved facility, featuring significant upgrades to the spectator experience. We’re also extremely grateful to have a presenting sponsor with the expertise and resources of GMR as we look to implement our detailed and comprehensive health and safety plan.”

The plan, which includes each attendee receiving a mask and a bottle of hand sanitizer upon entering the track, was developed in consultation with state and local health officials.

This event weekend is highlighted by an NTT INDYCAR SERIES doubleheader, with races Friday, Oct. 2 and Saturday, Oct. 3. It will be the penultimate event of the series’ season as the field pursues the champion’s prestigious Astor Challenge Cup to be awarded Sunday, Oct. 25 at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The INDYCAR Harvest GP will pay tribute to a storied IMS event, the Harvest Classic in September 1916. The Harvest Classic was the only racing event held outside of May at IMS from 1911 through 1993. The event featured three races, all won by legendary driver Johnny Aitken.

Fans also will see a host of facility improvements during the event weekend, including more than 30 new LED video boards, refreshed concession stands and restrooms, and 5G wireless connectivity throughout the facility.

The first race will air at 3:30 p.m. (ET) Friday, Oct. 2 on the USA Network. NBC will broadcast the second race at 2:30 p.m. (ET) Saturday, Oct. 3, with WTHR-13 airing the action live in Central Indiana.

Also racing that weekend will be the first pairing of two major sports car series — the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli and its North American counterpart, GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS. Former Indianapolis 500 pole winner Ryan Briscoe is among the drivers in the Indianapolis 8 Hour event held Sunday, Oct. 4.

The event also will showcase drivers in SRO America’s Pirelli GT4 America, GT Sports Club America and the TC America series.

The full on-track schedule is available at IMS.com.