Castroneves: IndyCar's chief steward has 'lost it'
SAO PAULO (AP) Helio Castroneves is not done lashing out at IndyCar chief steward Brian Barnhart, saying the official has "lost it" and is a "serious problem" to the series.
Furious with Barnhart's decision to punish him after Sunday's race in Japan, Castroneves has decided to go all out against the official and is not mincing words to express his disappointment.
The rant started with several strong-worded posts on his Twitter page after the race in Motegi, then became even stronger in a column published by a Brazilian newspaper on Tuesday.
"IndyCar has a serious problem and it's called Brian Barnhart," was the title of Castroneves' column in the Metro newspaper.
"I acknowledge that (Barnhart) has done a lot for the series, but he has definitely lost it," the three-time Indy 500 winner said. "It's impossible to accept the decisions of a race director who is inconsistent, who issues different punishment to identical situations and who is condescending with some and harsh with others."
Castroneves called "absurd" Barnhart's decision to move him from seventh to 22nd place in the Japan race after he made a pass under yellow on the last lap. The driver acknowledged his overtaking maneuver was illegal, but said he should've received a one-spot penalty instead of being sent to the back of the field among those on the lead lap.
Castroneves said similar situations in the past prompted more lenient punishment from IndyCar.
"Why does the race director do something like this when it comes to Castroneves but acts differently when it comes to other drivers?" the Brazilian wrote in his column.
Barnhart defended his decision and said there had not been any similar incidents of passing under a local yellow on a road course. He said Castroneves was likely trying to draw a parallel to when the series reset the order under caution at Indy at the end of the last two races there, but said it wasn't the same situation.
"It's comparing apples and oranges," Barnhart said in an email to The Associated Press. "As far as I know, since we have been road racing this was the only example of a blatant disregard of a local yellow, combined with a direct order from race control, that we have ever experienced."
In his column, Castroneves praised the series and said he is proud to be part of it, but said something has to be done about Barnhart.
"A professional series like IndyCar shouldn't have to deal with inconsistent and amateurish decisions by a race director," Castroneves said. "I'm not asking (IndyCar) to fire Barnhart, not at all, but something has to be done. He either changes his concepts or the (series) has to change the professional in the area."
As the series' chief steward, Barnhart is responsible for nearly all of the racing decisions, including those dealing with driver and team punishment.
"It is sad to see one person being responsible for bringing down an entire series," Castroneves had said on Twitter after the race, also adding: "Making the famous (Paul Tracy's) words mine: Brian Barnhart is a circus clown!" More at SI.com