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Verstappen would welcome F1 moving to fixed steward panel

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Max Verstappen would welcome Formula 1’s move to a permanent steward panel, rather than its current system of having a rotation of three stewards per each Grand Prix weekend.

Verstappen’s fellow Dutch countryman Arie Luyendyk, a two-time Indianapolis 500 champion and still the speed record holder at Indianapolis Motor Speedway over both one and four laps, serves as one of the Verizon IndyCar Series’ full-time three stewards, having completed its second season. He serves alongside Dan Davis and Max Papis, with Brian Barnhart running the race as Race Director.

INDYCAR Race Control had been a sore subject in past years but the last two years with the consistent, same panel has reduced controversy and confusion when it comes to officiating, rather than leaving it a lottery depending on the stewards at a weekend.

Speaking to GPUpdate.net, Luyendyk said, “You need a fixed panel. During a Grand Prix weekend there is no time to be creative with rules and penalties. Just put a few guys in that spot who will be there every weekend, who will get to know the characters of the drivers better, which makes it a lot easier to judge.”

Verstappen, who was at the SEMA automotive show in Las Vegas this week along with Red Bull official lubricant partner ExxonMobil, echoed Luyendyk’s comments.

“I think at the end of the day, yes, it would be better,” Verstappen told NBC Sports.

“At least then, (with) the stewards … you know who you’re working with. They start to understand the driver a bit better because you share more times together, more races together.

“I honestly think we have to head into that direction.”

Verstappen’s drawn the short stick of two post-race time penalties at the 2016 Mexican and 2017 United States Grands Prix, both for track limit infractions.

While Verstappen was correctly judged to have been outside Circuit of The Americas’ white line of demarcation when he made the pass for third place on Kimi Raikkonen that ultimately did not stand, where the controversy arose afterwards was over the inconsistency in officiating or regulating other drivers who also left the track and gained an advantage.

F1 has relied on the rotating steward panel, with Verstappen having cited an issue with one particular member of the panel (Garry Connolly) for assessing several penalties to him. F1 also uses at least one ex-driver as a steward per weekend. This was Mika Salo in Austin and was most recently Tom Kristensen at Mexico City.

It’s official: Laguna Seca to host INDYCAR for at least next 3 seasons

Laguna Seca, from the 1991 CART race there. Photo: Getty Images
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INDYCAR made it official today: the 2019 season-ending race will move a couple of hours down the Northern California coast to WeatherTechRaceway Laguna Seca.

Sonoma Raceway, which has hosted INDYCAR since 2005 – including the last five season-ending races (that includes this year’s upcoming season finale) – will not be part of next season’s schedule.

Earlier today, the Monterey County (Calif.) Board of Supervisors, which oversees operation of the iconic racing facility, approved a three-year agreement with INDYCAR to host next year’s season finale on Sept. 20-22, 2019.

The remaining two race dates for 2020 and 2021 will be announced later, according to an INDYCAR media release.

The 2.238-mile permanent road course previously hosted CART and Champ Car World Series Indy car races from 1983 through 2004, including the season-ending races from 1989 through 1996.

“I can’t imagine a more attractive destination location for INDYCAR’s season finale,” Mark Miles, president and CEO of Hulman & Company, which owns INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, said in a statement. “Monterey is a place people want to be, and we will bring all of our guests. I think it’s a great choice for us.”

Bobby Rahal, former CART/CCWS driver and current INDYCAR team co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, won four of the prior 22 previous Indy car races at Laguna Seca, all consecutively (1984-87).

“It’s great news, but I might be biased,” Rahal said. “I personally won four Indy car races there and won my first Can-Am race there. Our Indy car team won with Bryan Herta and Max Papis and our sports car team won IMSA races there.

“So I would almost bet you that Laguna Seca is the site of more victories for me as a driver and team owner combined of any track I’ve ever raced on.

“There is nothing better than the Monterey Bay area, and it’s a great circuit that always drew great crowds. So I’m thrilled to have Indy car racing coming back to a circuit I love so much. We will put on a good show, for sure.”

In addition to Rahal as a multiple winner, two-time winners at Laguna Seca were fellow current INDYCAR team co-owners Michael Andretti and Bryan Herta, INDYCAR on NBCSN analyst Paul Tracy, Danny Sullivan and Patrick Carpentier.

“The return of INDYCAR to its spiritual road racing home of Laguna Seca is a tremendous honor and testament to the appeal of Monterey, and through the support of the County of Monterey will provide a significant economic benefit to our area businesses,” said Timothy McGrane, CEO of WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, “We are looking forward to creating more memories in race fans’ minds like Bobby Rahal’s four consecutive Indy car wins from 1984-1987, Mario Andretti’s farewell race in 1994 and Alex Zanardi’s last-lap overtaking of Bryan Herta in the Corkscrew in 1996 that simply became known as ‘The Pass.'”

NBC Sports Group has secured exclusive domestic television and digital media rights for INDYCAR races beginning in 2019. Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports and NBCSN, agreed that Laguna Seca is an ideal venue to close out the schedule.

“We commend INDYCAR for returning to Laguna Seca, a historic track and an inspired place for the 2019 season finale,” Miller said. “The 2019 season will be our first as the exclusive media rights partner of INDYCAR, and we could not be more pleased to broadcast the championship from beautiful Monterrey.”

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