The São Paulo Indy 300 will be re-run on Monday after the race was suspended due to heavy rain that lashed the street circuit in the lead-up to the race’s Sunday afternoon billing.
In spite of organisers’ best efforts to delay starting the race – or to at least have half the race distance run – conditions failed to improve when a restart was attempted, and the race was eventually called off with what little running was attempted turning into chaos with a series of collisions between drivers who struggled to cope with the volume of standing water on-track.
Just two green flag laps occurred in the first nine before the race was stopped and red-flagged for two and a half hours. The race was then run for five laps behind the pace car, but was red-flagged again. Teams have been informed that the start of the race is scheduled for 9:05AM local time on Monday.
While pole-sitter Will Power was able to make use of his front-row start and ensure he held the lead (and the best of the visibility), behind him there was chaos.
Castroneves was send straight into the wall, and the hapless Brazilian was collected by no less than three other drivers: Simona de Silvestro, Danica Patrick and Tony Kanaan. Patrick’s car landed up going underneath di Silvestro’s – fortunately without any injury to either driver – but Kanaan was left nursing a minor hand injury.
An attempt at a restart saw Scott Dixon – now up to second place – spin down the order, while behind him the likes of Justin Wilson, James Hinchcliffe and Sébastien Bourdais conspired to collide. All four were able to continue without damage.
The incident promoted Graham Rahal up to second place, but he too almost immediately spun to promote Ryan Briscoe into second, with Mike Conway and Takuma Sato following. Franchitti had now recovered to fifth.
Two places behind, Vitor Meira had climbed to seventh, but he caught a patch of even wetter track and speared into the wall at the end of the back straight.
And as if to further emphasise just how impossible conditions had become, Bourdais and Hunter-Reay each enjoyed another spin, while JR Hildebrand and Raphael Matos each took a trip into the Turn 1 run-off. Officials eventually decided to red-flag the race.
During the lengthy delay that followed, common sense eventually prevailed among the race officials, who decided that crews could now work on the cars that were classified as retirees in the first phase of the race, meaning that the likes of Castroneves, Kanaan and Meira – all Brazilians, you may note! – could rejoin the race restart, albeit it several laps adrift.
As a restart was attempted, Conway suffered more misfortune when the rain flooded his electrics and he stalled on the grid, dropping him from third to 20th.
Monday’s restarted race will now see Power start from pole, followed by Briscoe, Sato, Rahal and Franchitti, with the balance of the running order determined by the order in which cars completed the 14th lap of the 75-lap race.