Drivers question why Hamilton not penalized on 1st turn

Getty Images

MEXICO CITY (AP) Lewis Hamilton won the Mexican Grand Prix with the help of a wide turn through the grass and dirt at the first corner.

It was a crucial victory for the defending champion if he is to catch Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in this season’s title chase with just two races left.

But several drivers questioned why Hamilton wasn’t penalized for going off track and returning with a huge lead. The move came when Hamilton locked his right front brake coming out of the long straight off the start.

“Very surprised by that. Massive advantage,” said Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, who started fifth and had a good view of Hamilton’s drive into the first turn. “I think he was going well off the track. He was far, far from making turn one and two … That it’s not even being looked at is amazing to me.”

Hamilton started on pole position and the maneuver helped him stay ahead of Rosberg. It was critical for both the race and the chase for the season championship.

Race officials chose not to review Hamilton’s move, but did look at a bump between Rosberg and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen at the same turn that briefly sent Rosberg into the grass as well. No penalty was assessed in that case.

Verstappen was later penalized 5 seconds for running wide into the grass at the same corner as Hamilton’s drive-off. Verstappen’s wild ride came in a late-race duel for the third with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, and the penalty cost him a podium finish.

“Lewis gained a massive advantage (at the start),” Verstappen told Sky Sports. “I didn’t gain an advantage. When I came back on track I was the same length in front so I think it’s ridiculous.”

Hamilton insisted they were different racing situations.

“I think I was still in the lead going in. I was still in the lead going out,” Hamilton said.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, who finished third, wasn’t so sure.

“How you can be leading, lock the brakes, go off and come out in front?” Ricciardo said. “I think he deserved the penalty. I think anyone who does that deserves a penalty.”

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.”