IndyCar puts F1 stewards to shame as race winner disqualified six weeks later

Jamie Woodhouse
The IndyCar field circulates at Texas Motor Speedway. Texas, 2023. Andretti

The IndyCar field circulates at Texas Motor Speedway.

While the Formula 1 stewards have at times been criticised for slow decisions, IndyCar has put that to shame by handing out a pair of disqualifications after six weeks, not that McLaren’s Pato O’Ward is complaining.

The 2024 IndyCar campaign got underway with the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 10, but that race is back under the microscope after two Penske drivers – including race winner Josef Newgarden – were disqualified.

Push-to-pass violation sparks double DQ six weeks on

IndyCar’s push-to-pass system carries a similar philosophy to Formula 1’s Drag Reduction System [DRS] in that it is used as an overtaking aid, with drivers able to push a button and deploy a power boost for an allocated amount of time during a race.

However, using push-to-pass at race starts and restarts is not permitted, which is where St. Petersburg race winner Newgarden and P3 finisher Scott McLaughlin went wrong, with both Penske drivers having now been disqualified from the race results after been deemed to have “gained a competitive advantage” by using the aid at restarts.

Penske’s third entrant Will Power was found not to have gained this competitive advantage, but was issued with a 10-point penalty. Penske meanwhile were fined $25,000 per car and stripped of all prize money accumulated at the event over “manipulating” the push-to-pass system.

All of this means that McLaren driver O’Ward, who had finished P2 in St. Petersburg, now inherits the win.

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

“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.”

Newgarden’s disqualification means he loses his Championship lead, with Scott Dixon now taking over the P1 spot.

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