The three race stewards announced prior to the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season – Arie Luyendyk, Max Papis and chief steward Dan Davis – have at their disposal a simplified penalty system for on-track infractions in the Verizon Indy Car Series Rule Book, the result of a collaborative effort from drivers, team owners/managers and league officials.
The penalty guidelines were in place for the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg weekend March 11-13 and made available to all this week in INDYCAR's desire for rules transparency to media and fans who follow the Verizon IndyCar Series. The penalty guidelines will be in place again for this weekend's Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix and the remainder of the 16-race schedule.
"The penalty guidelines were developed after numerous meetings during the offseason with drivers, team owners and other team principals," said Brian Barnhart, INDYCAR vice president of competition, race control. "All of the stakeholders involved wanted more teeth in the regulations when it came to more serious violations of safety or competition rules.
"The result is that the stewards now have a more clearly defined set of rulings they can make," Barnhart continued. "That includes immediate penalties for some transgressions that in the past would have been warnings on the first offense."
Among the infractions that now incur an immediate penalty rather than a warning are: jumping a race start or restart, lagging back on a restart, blocking and avoidable contact.
"The drivers in particular wanted more strict penalties for these types of infractions," Barnhart said. "They believe, and INDYCAR agrees, that these updated penalty guidelines will create cleaner, more exciting racing that is easier to officiate and easier for fans to understand and enjoy."
Any of the three stewards or Barnhart, the race director, can call for a stewards' review if one believes a competition infraction has occurred. At that point, the race stewards examine all information available to them, including video replays, timing and scoring and other electronic data, audio communications and more.
A majority vote of the race stewards then decides whether a competition infraction occurred. If so, the chief steward relies on the penalty guidelines to mete out warnings or penalties.