Takuma Sato has been reprimanded and placed under a five-race probation for reckless and overly aggressive driving in the Pocono Indy 400 last weekend, which saw him crash the #14 AJ Foyt Racing car into the side of Ryan Hunter Reay's #1 Andretti Autosport in pit lane.
The incident happened on lap 61 of Sunday's race at Pocono Raceway when the two drivers came in for a green flag pit stop at the same time. Hunter-Reay slowed down as normal to obey the pit lane speed limit, but Sato reacted too slowly and hurtled onto pit road much too fast and into the right hand side of the reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion's car.
The impact knocked Hunter-Reay into the pit wall and did damage to the car's front wing and front right suspension. The Andretti Autosport team was able to repair the damage, but by the time he came back out on track he was already more than 20 laps down and unable to claw back any positions.
The left rear of Sato's underfloor was cracked, and was deemed too unsafe to consider repairing or risk returning to the track.
"We were just coming in to pit lane, minding our own business, and we get creamed from behind," Hunter-Reay said at the time. "It's so frustrating when you're running top three, top two, really happy with your car, and then somebody comes from out of nowhere to take you out."
Sato had no defence: "I think I misjudged it. We came off the corner, and I lost the back end and slid into Ryan. Extremely sorry to Andretti Autosport and their crew and my crew."
After reviewing the incident, the IndyCar Series officials declared it to be "avoidable contact" and placed driver Takuma Sato on probation through the next five races, which will end following the IndyCar race on September 1 at Baltimore.
IndyCar said that Sato had been found to be in violation of rule 220.127.116.11 of the series rule book, which states that "a driver must not engage in reckless, careless and/or overly aggressive actions or unsportsmanlike behaviour toward other members."
A recurrence of the same sort of behaviour, or failure to show sufficient overall improvement in driving standards, could see IndyCar impose further penalties at its discretion, the penalty notice warned.
The notice added that Sato may contest the imposition of the penalty pursuant to the procedures and timelines detailed in the protest and appeal procedures of the IZOD IndyCar Series rulebook.