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Penske's IndyCar explanation 'doesn't stack up', accuses McLaren's Brown

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown says he’s “disappointed in the various excuses” from Penske over the St. Petersburg IndyCar push-to-pass scandal.

Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet

Photo by: Josh Tons / Motorsport Images

IndyCar officials disqualified St. Pete race winner Josef Newgarden and third-place finisher Scott McLaughlin for illegally using the overtake system in last month's season-opener, which occurred after a line of software code was changed during hybrid testing and mistakenly used in race mode as the 2024 season kicked off.

Their team-mate Will Power, who didn't use the system illegally but could have done so, was docked 10 points, and all were fined $25,000 each and forfeited their prize money.

In an emotionally-charged press conference at Barber Motorsports Park yesterday, Newgarden revealed that he thought the rules had changed to allow the use of the system at starts and restarts. McLaughlin and Power made it clear that they were not under this misapprehension.

Speaking at the Monaco Formula E race, Brown – who oversees the Arrow McLaren squad whose driver Pato O'Ward inherited the race win – said he was content with the way IndyCar officials handled the situation, as team founder Roger Penske also owns the IndyCar Series.

"I'm comfortable with that but ended up disappointed in the various excuses or explanations that the team and drivers have made because they don't make a lot of sense," said Brown.

"I think champion drivers know exactly what the rules are, they know exactly what they have in the car.

"A team of that caliber to have an oversight of that magnitude doesn't seem right. The team and the drivers are too good to say we didn't know the rules, we didn't know it was there, it was an oversight…

"None of that I think stacks up and when something like that happens, I think you just need to own it."

Patricio O'Ward, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet

Patricio O'Ward, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

While he was happy with the way that IndyCar carried out its investigation – which only became apparent during warm-up at Long Beach last Sunday – and the sanctions handed down, Brown hopes that it might shine more light on when push-to-pass is being deployed, to avoid any repeat in future.

"I think the series demonstrated it had the integrity," he added. "They found out there was an issue and dealt with it swiftly.

"I would like to understand and make sure if in the future how we all kind of missed push-to-pass being deployed when it shouldn't, like on the spot. So what technology, or data, or stewards and teams do we need to have…

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"If the DRS opened up [in F1], that's more visible you'd have everyone going 'what's going on'. So, I would like to understand how it was missed at the time and make sure that in the future there's the right information being looked at.

"I think on a restart is a little bit trickier because so many things are happening to see what car has got more speed, but they've all got onboard cameras, you can see the button getting pushed. So that's one thing from a series standpoint.

"I think they showed their integrity because they penalised the guy who owns the series."

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