Behind the Barriers: USGP day three

Juan Pablo Montoya was excluded from Sunday's United States Grand Prix for breach of Article 85 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations. The facts presented to the team noted "Driver joined the race after the start in a spare car in ...

Juan Pablo Montoya was excluded from Sunday's United States Grand Prix for breach of Article 85 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations. The facts presented to the team noted "Driver joined the race after the start in a spare car in circumstances where the driver had not left the grid within 15 seconds of the start." The team was notified 90 minutes after the infraction was observed by the FIA.

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Although not confirmed by a signed contract, it is apparent the USGP has found a home in Indianapolis, at least for the next two years, according to a Saturday article in the local Indianapolis Star newspaper. Quoting Bernie Ecclestone, head of Formula One Management (and seemingly everything else in the F1 paddock), the Star said Ecclestone is pleased with the site and its event.

"I just said to Tony, 'we're happy if you're happy'," Ecclestone said. He is looking for an extension beyond these two years and added, "If you want to extend the contract beyond the two years, I will. We're going to make it work; I'm committed. He's happy with it and we should continue. I left the duration of the contract to him. We have that sort of relationship."

Ecclestone and Tony George, owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Indy Racing League have a handshake agreement - an anomaly in modern sports business practices - to continue their cooperative relationship. Both appear pleased with the crowds over the past two days, estimated at 40,000 Friday and as many as 70,000 Saturday for F1 qualifying and two support races.

McLaren's Ron Dennis said the USGP should remain an integral part of the World Championship. "The teams all contribute to the view that the World Championship must be that," he said, "and America and Canada are extremely important to our calendar. It obviously gives us the ability to attract some American investment into our sport, and we wouldn't want to see these races move off the calendar."

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Ferraris have finished one-two in three of the five Grands Prix held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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Attrition from accidents and mechanical problems was high as eight cars finished the race, the lowest number since 11 cars completed the race in 2003.

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Wolf Henzler won both Porsche Michelin Supercup races becoming the first driver to sweep both Porsche support races during a single USGP weekend. Henzler has now earned four Porsche Supercup victories at the Speedway. He won the second race in 2002 and 2003. Henzler has scored victories in five of the six events this season.

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After the conclusion of Saturday's on track activities, Olivier Panis celebrated his participation in his 150th grand prix. The celebration, held in the paddock, consisted of cake and refreshments, which were consumed rather than used as projectiles. Panis' teammate Cristiano da Matta has yet to take a cue from fellow Brazilian and good friend Tony Kanaan when it comes to cakes and celebrations.

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Joking with friends and journalists in the paddock on Saturday afternoon, da Matta was keen to bare the soles of his driving shoes. After clearly indicating which shoe was used for accelerator and brake, the soles were revealed indicating more wear on the right shoe than the left. "He loves to do that," remarked his mother.

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One day after setting the pole position at the Nextel Cup race at Michigan International Speedway, Jeff Gordon few to Indianapolis with Jimmie Johnson and Brian Vickers to watch qualifying for the USGP. "I was a big fan before, but after you get a chance to drive one of these machines, it's hard for you not to just fall in love with it" said Gordon. "Jimmie and I were over in Barcelona and enjoyed the race, so we were like, 'They're on our home soil, we're up in Michigan, we're one-two-three (on the starting grid), we've got to come down and see these guys." Nextel Cup drivers had Saturday off as the ARCA Series competed at the 2-mile high banked Michigan Speedway.

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In the five Grands Prix held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Ferrari has earned the pole position four times. Michael Schumacher started on the pole from 2000-2002. McLaren driver Kimi Raikkonen won the only non-Ferrari pole last year. Rubens Barrichello is on the pole for Sunday's race after trimming more than half a second (0.567 seconds) from the track record set by Michael Schumacher in 2002.

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Dan Wheldon was the latest IndyCar Series driver spotted in the Formula One paddock on Saturday afternoon. After visiting with Rubens Barichello in the paddock, IndyCar Series driver Felipe Giaffone moved to Arie Luyendyk's suite along the Tower Terrace to watch Sunday's race.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , McLaren