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Stroll, Magnussen each docked three grid spots at USGP

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Add Lance Stroll and Kevin Magnussen to the list of drivers – Stoffel Vandoorne (five spots), Max Verstappen (15) Nico Hulkenberg (20) and Brendon Hartley (25) – penalized in qualifying for the United States Grand Prix, and starting in a place other than where they qualified.

Stroll and Magnussen have each been docked three grid spots for impeding another driver during the session. For Stroll, it was Magnussen’s Haas F1 Team teammate Romain Grosjean while Magnussen was judged to have impeded Sergio Perez as well. Before any penalties are applied, Stroll was 17th and Magnussen 20th in qualifying, having both been knocked out of Q1.

The first penalty point assessed to Stroll came as a result of his running wide exiting Turn 19, which then forced Grosjean onto the excess pavement at corner exit and onto the grass.

A statement from the FIA race stewards reads as follows:

“The Stewards examined multiple angles of video evidence, including CCTV not available on the broadcast and radio calls to car 18, and heard from Lance Stroll, the driver of car 18, Romain Grosjean, the driver of car 8 and the team representatives.

“STR was on a slow lap, GRO on a fast lap. STR was changing settings under direction of his engineer and got a very late call about GRO overtaking. STR immediately moved right and off the track, but GRO was already outside track limits and made the decision to overtake on the right, as STR moved right.

“It was obvious STR was not able to see GRO was approaching in his mirrors, and he stated he could not move to the left as KVY was passing him on that side.

“The Stewards believe STR did what he could do in the circumstances but this was potentially a very dangerous situation as the speed differential between the two cars was in excess of 100 km/h at the apex of turn 19. The Stewards believe the team should have given STR more advance warning that GRO was approaching rapidly.”

Grosjean later told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Jennie Gow afterwards, “The one on Lance Stroll was close. I was lucky not to spin in the grass. That would have been the end of it.”

Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, United States of America.
Friday 20 October 2017.
World Copyright: Glenn Dunbar/LAT Images
ref: Digital Image _31I1983

Magnussen, meanwhile accrued his sixth, seventh and eighth penalty points in a 12-month period for having been judged to impede Perez. The FIA’s statement here reads:

“The Stewards examined multiple angles of video evidence, including CCTV not available on the broadcast, the team radio calls, and heard from Kevin Magnussen, the driver of car 20, Sergio Perez, the driver of car 11 and the team representatives.

“The driver of car 20 admitted he had impeded car 11, and the team admitted it had inadvertently incorrectly advised the driver that PER was on an out lap.

“The driver and team apologized to the driver of car 11 for the error.”

Perez told Gow afterwards,” We had good pace in the car today. But my qualifying was compromised big time when Kevin blocked me. I had to use an extra set. So in Q3 I only had a single set. It was strange; it was quite understeery. Lost four tenths to Q2, and that meant P10. Definitely tomorrow I will be able to recover, move forward.”

The full grid will be revealed on Sunday, with live coverage from Austin beginning with pre-race coverage at 2 p.m. ET on NBC.

Alexander Rossi remains the story in IndyCar in 2019

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ELKHART LAKE, Wisc. – Alexander Rossi’s greatness was on full display Monday at Road America.

He started on the outside of the front row, drafted behind pole sitter Colton Herta at the drop of the green flag, pulled out a perfectly timed move to race side by side with Herta going into Turn 1.

By Turn 2 of the first lap, Rossi’s No. 27 NAPA Honda was out front and drove away from the field, easily winning the REV Group Grand Prix of Road America by nearly 30 seconds over Team Penske’s Will Power.

Rossi was so good, it appeared he was running on a different race course than the other 23 competitors. There was some outstanding racing throughout the field with 191 total passes, including 175 for position, but none of those passes were at the front.

According to Rossi’s engineer, Jeremy Milles, there was just one thing kept Rossi’s race from being deemed complete perfection.

“It we had stayed out two laps longer on the last pit stop, we would have led every single lap instead of Graham Rahal leading one lap,” Milless told NBC Sports.com. “It’s good to see when we give him a proper car, he puts it to work.

“He’s not like a lot of drivers.”

Rossi led 54 of the 55 laps in the race and defeated Power by 28.4391 seconds – a huge margin of victory by today’s standards. Back in 1982, Hector Rebaque defeated Al Unser by a full lap at the 4.014-mile, 14 Road America road course, but those were far different times than today’s very deep field in the NTT IndyCar Series.

Although it was Rossi’s second victory of the season and the seventh of his career, the 27-year-old from Nevada City, California, has been the driver everyone talks about in 2019. The win snapped a four-race streak where he finished second three times and fifth in the other.

Simon Pagenaud won the 103rdIndianapolis 500 on May 26, but the fans and media were talking about Rossi’s bold, daring moves, including some wildly aggressive passes down the front straight and to the outside in Turn 1.

Rossi had a fantastic car the next week in the first race of the Detroit Grand Prix at Belle Isle but was burned by the timing of a caution period for a crash as his main challenger, Josef Newgarden, dove into the pit area to make a stop just before pit lane closed because of the caution.

Rossi had to wait until the pits were reopened to make his stop, and that put him behind Newgarden and ultimately decided the race.

After a fifth-place finish the following day in Race No. 2, Rossi was once again standing up in his seat and on top of the steering wheel in a tremendous battle with Newgarden at Texas Motor Speedway on June 8. Rossi tried his best to make his car stick on the outside lane going into Turn 1, but when he discovered the risk was much higher than the reward, he had to begrudgingly settle for second, finishing 0.816 seconds behind the current NTT IndyCar Series points leader.

Rossi left no doubt on his Sunday drive through the Wisconsin woods as he never was challenged.

In just three short seasons, Rossi has developed into one of the greatest drivers in a generation in IndyCar. He doesn’t even have 10 victories yet, and he already had the makings of a legend.

“It’s almost like Juan Pablo Montoya, when he arrived as a rookie, he was great immediately,” Rossi’s team owner Michael Andretti told NBCSports.com after the race. “Juan is one of the greats, and I think as time moves on, Alex will prove to be one of the greats.

“He is very aggressive, very calm, very confident, everything you want in a driver. He wasn’t racing anybody all day; he was just racing himself not to make any mistakes.”

For Andretti, this is a very important time in his relationship with Rossi. The driver’s contract concludes at the end of this season, and he is the focal point of speculation on where he will race in 2020.

Before Pagenaud revived his career with a sweep of the major events at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the Month of May, Rossi looked like “Penske Material” as the driver that would take over the No. 22 Chevrolet. After Pagenaud won the Indy 500, team owner Roger Penske assured him he would be back on the team in 2020.

Rossi’s loyalties lie with Honda. Both he and his father, Pieter, share a close relationship with the engine manufacturer that helped the former Formula One test driver at Manor find a full-time home in the NTT IndyCar Series.

Andretti told NBCSports.com on Friday that he was “optimistically confident” that he will re-sign Rossi once a sponsorship agreement with NAPA is completed.

INDYCAR Photo by Chris Jones

Andretti remains confident after Rossi’s win on Sunday.

“We’re getting there,” Andretti said. “I think we’re getting there. We are feeling pretty good about it.”

There are others, however, that aren’t as optimistic.

If Roger Penske wants a driver, who turns down an opportunity like that? After all, Team Penske is far and away the winningest team in IndyCar history, including a record 18 Indy 500 wins.

Think of these scenarios.

What if McLaren makes a substantial offer to align with Andretti Autosport for a full-time NTT IndyCar Series team in the future after McLaren’s debacle in this year’s Indy 500?

In order for that to happen, though, Andretti would have to switch to Chevrolet, because Honda ‘s parent company in Japan will no longer do business with McLaren.

The last time Andretti considered leaving Honda for Chevy, Rossi was set to leave Andretti to join another Honda team, Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports in 2017.

If Andretti Autosports and McLaren joined together, that would also mean the Andretti-aligned Harding Steinbrenner Racing would become a Chevy operation.

Honda could keep Rossi as one of its drivers by leading him to Chip Ganassi Racing. Five-time Cup Series champion Scott Dixon remains on top of his game, but it’s unlikely he will be racing Indy cars 10 years from now.

Barring unforeseen circumstance, Rossi will still be in the cockpit and winning races in a decade, and that would position Ganassi’s team for the future. The team’s second driver is rookie Felix Rosenqvist, who is currently racing with a one-year contract.

Even Rossi knows his situation for next year is complicated, which is why he chooses not to talk about it. He has developed a strong bond with Milless as his engineer and Rob Edwards (white shirt on left) as his race strategist.

Do both of those key members end up on a different team with Rossi? Edwards is a key member of management at Andretti Autosport as the Chief Operating Officer.

Rossi is as cerebral as he is aggressive. After his victory, when pressed upon his next contract, he concluded the conversation perfectly.

“I have no considerations,” Rossi said regarding his contract status. “It’s in God’s hands.”