IndyCar: Pocono race resumes after bad crash puts Robert Wickens in hospital

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UPDATE 6 (4:30 p.m. ET): After a roughly two-hour red flag race stoppage, the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway has resumed on Lap 13 of the scheduled 200-lap event.

UPDATE 5 (4:24 p.m. ET): Engines have refired and drivers have begun driving back onto the racetrack. IndyCar Race Control said there will be four laps around the track before the green flag falls again for the third time today. Alexander Rossi is scored in the lead, followed by Will Power, Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud, Zach Veach, Sebastien Bourdais, Scott Dixon, Ed Jones, Ed Carpenter and Marco Andretti.

UPDATE 4 (4:20 p.m. ET): Drivers have climbed back in their cars. The race is expected to restart in the next 5-10 minutes, according to IndyCar Race Control.

UPDATE 3 (3:05 p.m. ET): According to a report, James Hinchcliffe has apparently left the racetrack and is headed to the hospital to be with Robert Wickens, his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammate and best friend. Hinchcliffe declined to be interviewed on NBCSN about the circumstances of the crash that involved Wickens, Hinchcliffe and three other drivers.

UPDATE 2 (2:53 p.m. ET): IndyCar officials say the repairs to the catchfence will take at least another 30 minutes. Also, James Hinchcliffe, Takuma Sato, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Pietro Fittipaldi have all been cleared and released from the infield medical care center.

UPDATE 1 (3:20 p.m. ET): Curt Cavin, IndyCar Vice President of Communications, has spoken to media and said this:

“Robert Wickens was awake and alert when he came here (infield medical center) and is being transported to Lehigh Valley Cedar Crest Hospital in Allentown (Pa.) for evaluation. We’ll have more updates later. That’s where we stand.”

Original story follows:

A major crash involving Robert Wickens, Ryan Hunter-Reay, James Hinchcliffe, Takuma Sato and Pietro Fittipaldi has caused a stoppage of the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway.

Contact was made on Lap 8 of the scheduled 200 laps when, shortly after a restart and coming out of Turn 2, Wickens and Hunter-Reay touched wheels. Wickens’ car climbed and went up into the fence and spun several times in mid-air before coming to rest against the inside retaining wall.

Hinchcliffe then hit Wickens’ car as it came back onto the track.

It took safety crews about 12 minutes to extricate Wickens from his damaged vehicle. He was then taken by ambulance and transported into the infield care center in the paddock area, where he subsequently was put into a helicopter to take him to a local hospital.

The fence incurred major damage that will take a lengthy period of time — IndyCar officials said it will take at least an hour in duration — and rain is approaching the area, as well.

Hinchcliffe exited his car under his own power but was seen holding his wrists and walking gingerly to a safety vehicle.

Fittipaldi appeared uninjured, as did Hunter-Reay and Sato.

“I’m okay, just thinking about Robert,” Hunter-Reay told NBCSN. “It’s unfortunate but I just hope Robert is okay. I started pulling ahead and once we got to (Turn) 2 … I thought I had got past him.”

Added Sato to NBCSN, “It’s just unfortunate. My helmet was completely covered in oil and I couldn’t see anything. … It’s just a real pity.”

“He’s fine, he didn’t hit that hard,” team owner Michael Andretti said of Hunter-Reay to NBCSN. “I think Robert should have backed out of it. He was only halfway on Ryan’s side. … He was in Ryan’s blind spot so Ryan didn’t see him.”

It was the second wreck of the race. Graham Rahal and Spencer Pigot tangled as the field was coming to the green flag start of the race. The ensuing clean-up took seven laps to clean.

Several fellow race car drivers and fans took to social media out of concern for Wickens:

We’ll continue to update this story as more information becomes available.

 

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Max Verstappen shows speed in Austria; Lewis Hamilton lacking pace

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SPIELBERG, Austria — Red Bull driver Max Verstappen posted the fastest time Friday, and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton lacked pace in the second practice session for the Styrian Grand Prix.

Verstappen was 0.043 seconds quicker than Valtteri Bottas – Hamilton’s teammate at Mercedes – and 0.217 ahead of Racing Point driver Sergio Perez.

“The car already feels better than last week, the balance is a lot nicer and we have made a good step,” said Verstappen, who did not finish last Sunday’s season-opening Austrian GP after starting from second.

“It is too early to say how we are looking against Mercedes, but we are quite happy. We have tried a few different directions to understand the car a bit more and we are heading the right way.”

Hamilton was only sixth fastest, about 0.7 seconds slower than Verstappen. Hamilton spent a chunk of time in the garage while his team worked on his car.

“It was quite far off, so there’s a lot of work to do in the background to figure it out,” he said. “Others out there are quick and Valtteri’s obviously got good pace.”

Despite adding a new front wing to its car, struggling Ferrari had a dismal afternoon.

Charles Leclerc was only ninth quickest and 1 second slower than Verstappen, while teammate Sebastian Vettel lagged about 2 seconds behind Verstappen in 16th.

Daniel Ricciardo lost control of his Renault car early into the second session, swerving left off the track and thudding backward into a protective tire wall. He climbed out unharmed, other than a slight limp, but the left rear tire was mangled and the car was lifted off the track by a crane.

Alexander Albon spun twice, the Red Bull driver’s second spin taking him right off the track and into gravel.

Earlier, Perez was fastest in the first practice ahead of Verstappen and Bottas, with Hamilton fourth quickest and Vettel only 10th in sunny conditions.

That session was briefly interrupted when Nicholas Latifi’s Williams car pulled over to the side with a gearbox issue.

The incident brought out yellow flags, forcing drivers to slow down. But McLaren driver Lando Norris overtook Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri and got a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

Norris, 20, finished third at the Austrian GP last weekend, becoming the youngest British driver in F1 history to get on the podium and third youngest in F1.

The upcoming race is changing names from last week but is at the same track. It is surrounded by the Styrian mountains.

A third and final practice will be held on Saturday morning before qualifying in the afternoon, with heavy rain and storms in the forecast.

If third practice and qualifying are washed out, drivers take their grid positions from where they placed in second practice.

“It would definitely suck if we didn’t get to qualify,” said Hamilton, who started fifth and finished fourth last weekend. “It would make it challenging.”

However, qualifying also could be moved to Sunday morning.

“I don’t expect to be on pole position with this (practice) lap,” Verstappen said.