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Hakkinen expects ‘ridiculous’ F1 engine penalty problem to get worse

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Two-time Formula 1 world champion Mika Hakkinen expects the sport’s “ridiculous” engine penalty problem to only get worse in 2018 when teams face a reduction in the number of parts they can use.

Following a litany of engine penalties through the 2017 season that saw many drivers receive sanctions they could not fully serve, F1 bosses moved to improve the system for next year by capping the maximum grid drop to 15 places before being sent to the back of the grip.

However, with teams facing a reduction from four to three allowed usages of each power unit component through the season, concerns have been raised that penalties will only increase through 2018.

Writing in his Unibet blog, Hakkinen discussed the main negatives with F1 through 2017, highlighting both the engine penalty issues and concerns about the policing of track limits, a topic that flared up over the United States Grand Prix weekend.

“Two negative points about Formula 1 in 2017 were the continuing problems concerning track limits and the ridiculous number of grid penalties awarded to drivers as a result of powertrain problems,” Hakkinen wrote.

‘I have made my view on track limits very clear; the lines are there for a good reason and the current drivers should respect them. The alternative is the old, high, kerbs which were very dangerous and could launch a car into the air.

“As for the engine penalties, I know the FIA has simplified the system for 2018, but with the number of permitted engines being reduced from four to three, I can see more problems during the course of a long and very competitive season.

“On a more positive note, Formula 1 in 2018 promises to be even more competitive. I am sure Mercedes will again be the team to beat, but Ferrari will build on what they learned this year and Red Bull Racing will be joined by McLaren in having a supply of Renault engines.”

Report: Spencer Pigot out at Ed Carpenter Racing

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Spencer Pigot will not return to Ed Carpenter Racing in 2020, according to a story Thursday by RACER.com.

The 26-year-old Floridian, who won the 2015 Indy Lights championship, is expected to be replaced in the No. 21 Chevrolet by 2019 Indy Lights runner-up Rinus VeeKay.

“I’m appreciative of the opportunity ECR gave me,” Pigot told RACER.com. “I understand the reasons they had to go in a different direction, and wish them all the best.”

In 56 NTT IndyCar Series starts, Pigot has 15 top 10 finishes, with a best finish of second at Iowa in 2018. He finished 14th in the 2019 point standings.

VeeKay, who tested in an Indy car twice for ECR in 2019, has six wins in 18 Indy Lights starts, including a weekend sweep of the final two rounds of the season at Laguna Seca in September.

A representative from ECR told NBC Sports Thursday that the team currently could not comment on any driver rumors as the team currently does not have any drivers under contract for the 2020 season, although it is presumed that owner/driver Carpenter will return to the No. 20 entry for the oval rounds.

NBC Sports will provide updates on the story once more information becomes available.