Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen may face penalty, called to meet with stewards before Brazilian GP

Hamilton Verstappen penalty Brazilian
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Already facing a five-spot grid penalty, Lewis Hamilton could face further punishment for the Brazilian GP if Formula One confirms something is amiss with his Drag Reduction System while Max Verstappen could also receive a penalty for touching the No. 44 Mercedes in the parc ferme after qualification.

Hamilton’s car was referred to stewards following qualification on Friday, a session in which he was more than a third of a second faster than second-place Verstappen.

Hamilton’s five-spot penalty would not take effect until Sunday’s race, which means he is scheduled to start on the pole for Saturday’s sprint race. Unless FIA hands down another penalty for the win infraction, that is. As of the start of Practice 2 for the Brazilian GP, a penalty had not yet been announced.

Additionally, Verstappen could be sanctioned for entering the parc ferme, a fenced-off area where cars are driven after qualification and the race for technical inspection.

According to Article 2.5.1 of the FIA International Sporting Code, “in the parc ferme, only the officials assigned may enter. No operation, checking, tuning or repair is allowed unless authorized by the same officials or by the applicable regulations.”

Verstappen was recorded by a fan entering the parc ferme after qualification. The video reportedly shows Verstappen touching the wing of Hamilton’s Mercedes.

“As we’ve seen with many, many drivers, they sometimes have a look around to see what is going on with the other cars,” Christian Horner, Team Principal of Red Bull Racing, said on the Sky Sports broadcast as Practice 2 began. “That’s all it was; nothing more. We’ve had drivers pull out clutch panels, we’ve had heads in cockpits, we’ve had front wings tested. It’s not unusual.”

According to Formula One, “the uppermost rear wing element adjustable positions were checked on car number 44 for compliance with Article 3.6.3 of the 2021 Formula One Technical Regulations. The requirement for the minimum distance was fulfilled.”

But the requirement for the maximum of 85mm, when the DRS system is deployed and tested in accordance with TD/011-19, were not fulfilled.”

Hamilton’s wing was impounded overnight.

Both title contenders could face penalties this weekend.

Cadillac, Acura battle for top speed as cars back on track for Rolex 24 at Daytona practice

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The new hybrid prototypes of Cadillac and Acura battled atop the speed chart as practice resumed Thursday for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Chip Ganassi Racing driver Richard Westbrook was fastest Thursday afternoon in the No. 02 Cadillac V-LMDh with a 1-minute, 35.185-second lap around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway.

That pace topped Ricky Taylor’s 1:35.366 lap that topped the Thursday morning session that marked the first time the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was back on track since qualifying Sunday afternoon that concluded the four-day Roar Before The Rolex 24 test.

In a final session Thursday night, Matt Campbell was fastest (1:35.802) in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsports Porsche 963 but still was off the times set by Westbrook and Taylor.

Punctuated by Tom Blomqvist’s pole position for defending race winner Meyer Shank Racing, the Acura ARX-06s had been fastest for much of the Roar and led four consecutive practice sessions.

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But the times have been extremely tight in the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) category that has brought hybrid engines to IMSA’s premier class. Only 0.9 seconds separated the nine LMDh cars in GTP in qualifying, and though the spread slightly widened to 1.378 seconds in Thursday’s practices with teams on varying strategies and preparation, Westbrook still pooh-poohed the importance of speeds.

“It’s always nice to be at the top, but I don’t think it means too much or read too much into it” Westbrook said. “Big fuel tanks in the GTP class this year, so you have no idea what fuel levels people are running. We had a good run, and the car is really enjoyable to drive now. I definitely wasn’t saying that a month ago.

“It really does feel good now. We are working on performance and definitely unlocking some potential, and it just gives us more confidence going into the race. It’s going to be super tight. Everyone’s got the same power, everyone has the same downforce, everyone has the same drag levels and let’s just go race.”

Because teams have put such a premium on reliability, handling mostly has suffered in the GTPs, but Westbrook said the tide had turned Thursday.

“These cars are so competitive, and you were just running it for the sake of running it in the beginning, and there’s so much going on, you don’t really have time to work on performance,” he said. “A lot of emphasis was on durability in the beginning, and rightly so, but now finally we can work on performance, and that’s the same for other manufacturers as well. But we’re worrying about ourselves and improving every run, and I think everybody’s pretty happy with their Cadillac right now.”

Mike Shank, co-owner of Blomqvist’s No. 60 on the pole, said his team still was facing reliability problems despite its speed.

“We address them literally every hour,” Shank said. “We’re addressing some little thing we’re doing better to try to make it last. And also we’re talking about how we race the race, which will be different from years past.

“Just think about every system in the car, I’m not going to say which ones we’re working on, but there are systems in the car that ORECA and HPD are continually trying to improve. By the way, sometimes we put them on the car and take them off before it even goes out on the track because something didn’t work with electronics. There’s so much programming. So many departments have to talk to each other. That bridge gets broken from a code not being totally correct, and the car won’t run. Or the power steering turns off.”

Former Rolex 24 winner Renger van der Zande of Ganassi said it still is a waiting game until the 24-hour race begins Saturday shortly after 1:30 p.m.

“I think the performance of the car is good,” van der Zande said. “No drama. We’re chipping away on setup step by step and the team is in control. It’s crazy out there what people do on the track at the moment. It’s about staying cool and peak at the right moment, and it’s not the right moment yet for that. We’ll keep digging.”


PRACTICE RESULTS:

Click here for Session I (by class)

Click here for Session II (by class)

Click here for Session III (by class)

Combined speeds