Pato O’Ward crowned St Petersburg winner Penske disqualified

Pato O'Ward crowned St Petersburg winner Penske disqualified

Pato O’Ward has been crowned as the winner of last month’s season-opening IndyCar race in St. Petersburg after Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden was disqualified weeks after the event.

Although the stewards in Formula 1 have occasionally faced criticism for their delayed rulings, IndyCar has slandered even more with two disqualifications after six weeks, as they proceeded to hand the St. Petersburg win to McLaren’s Pato O’Ward.

The initial race winner Josef Newgarden along with his Penske teammate Scott McLaughlin who came in third, were disqualified from the St. Pete event’s final standings on Wednesday by the NTT IndyCar Series for breaching the Push to Pass regulations.

Similar to Formula 1’s Drag Reduction System [DRS], IndyCar drivers have the option to use the push-to-pass system to assist in overtaking by pressing a button which activates a power boost for a set amount of time during a race.

Push-to-pass, however, is not permitted during race starts or restarts. This is where the Penske duo committed a violation and have since been disqualified from the results after it was determined that they had “gained a competitive advantage” by using the aid during restarts.

A more thorough investigation of the St. Petersburg race data confirmed that the systems were set up to facilitate an earlier activation than permitted.

Penske’s third entry Will Power was handed a 10-point penalty although it was determined that he did not gain this competitive edge. The team, on the other hand, received a fine of $25,000 for each car and lost all prize money claimed at the event.

“The integrity of the IndyCar Series championship is critical to everything we do,” IndyCar president Jay Frye said.

“While the violation went undetected at St. Petersburg, IndyCar discovered the manipulation during Sunday’s warmup in Long Beach and immediately addressed it, ensuring all cars were compliant for the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.

“Beginning with this week’s race at Barber Motorsports Park, new technical inspection procedures will be in place to deter this violation.”

Team Penske president Tim Cindric responded: “Unfortunately, the push-to-pass software was not removed as it should have been, following recently completed hybrid testing in the Team Penske Indy cars.

“This software allowed for push-to-pass to be deployed during restarts at the St. Petersburg Grand Prix race, when it should not have been permitted.

“The No. 2 car driven by Josef Newgarden and the No. 3 car driven by Scott McLaughlin both deployed push-to-pass on a restart, which violated IndyCae rules.

“Team Penske accepts the penalties applied by IndyCar.”

The severe penalties Penske received have caused major changes in the championship standings. Newgarden’s disqualification costs him his Championship lead while Scott Dixon now occupies the top spot

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