23 April 2014
Castroneves, Saavedra penalised after Long Beach
Helio Castroneves and Sebastian Saavedra have both been handed penalties by IndyCar for events that took place at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Team Penske's Helio Castroneves has been placed on probation until June 30 and KV-AFS Racing's Sebastian Saavedra fined $10,000 for separate incidents that occurred during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 13.
Castroneves has been penalised for a social media violation that was deemed to have breached Rule 9.3.8 of the Verizon IndyCar Series rulebook.
A tweet sent from the Brazilian's official account on the social networking site criticised race control for not penalising other drivers for incidents that occurred during the event and for giving a green flag during an on-track accident. The tweet included an image of IndyCar's official logo, with a 'thumbs down' symbol added over the centre.
The tweet was quickly removed from Castroneves' timeline, and the driver later explained that it had been his sister who had posted without his permission.
"I apologize for the earlier tweet degrading Indycar series which I did not write or agree with," Castroneves subsequently tweeted. "The steward [sic] were correct with the call made."
"My mistake everyone," concurred Kati Castroneves. "It was supposed to be my account not his. The post was already deleted and [Helio] does not agree with my comments.
"I'm not covering for my brother, I have access to his act and by mistake I posted my on opinion using his instead of mine," she added. "I want to make sure everyone understand. People make mistakes and I did."
Castroneves had previously been fined $30,000 in 2011 after calling the race director "a circus clown" on Twitter.
In Sebastian Saavedra's case, the driver was penalised after the California race for a violation of Rule 188.8.131.52.2 relating to failure to yield to safety vehicle and personnel during the race.
The incident occurred on lap 54 after Josef Newgarden and Ran Hunter-Reay clashed in turn 4 on lap 54 and triggered a multi-car accident. Saavedra locked up and slid through the scene but avoided being caught up in the accident, going on to finish in ninth place - his third career top ten result in IndyCar.
As well as a $10,000 fine, Saavedra will also be under probation through next month's Indianapolis events until May 25. Saavedra and Castroneves have the right of appeal, but both drivers have indicated that they will accept the reprimands and allow the matter to drop there.
Five set for Indy rookie orientation
Five drivers will be taking part in this year's Indianapolis 500 Rookie Orientation Programme, a mandatory three-step test that all drivers have to undertake before being allowed to participate in qualifying for the May race.
Kurt Busch, Mikhail Aleshin, Martin Plowman, Jack Hawksworth and Jacques Villeneuve will all have to go through the process on one of the two available dates, either Tuesday April 29 or Monday May 5.
The need for 'rookie' testing for 1995 Indy 500 winner and former CART and F1 champion Villeneuve may seem a little odd, but it's been nearly 20 years since the Canadian last participated in the race and 2014 will be only his third appearance in the event in total.
However his prior experience does mean that Villeneuve only needs to complete the last two phases of testing, which consists of the driver making 10 laps on a consistent line around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway at increasing set speeds.
Busch meanwhile is aiming to do 'the double' by competing in both the Indy 500 and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte on the same date. He will likely try to bank his ROP laps on the first available date, since the second is the day after the NASCAR race at Talladega which if postponed due to rain (as happened recently at Texas) could mean he's not able to travel to Indianapolis on the Monday.
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