Helio Castroneves says that his anger at Alexander Rossi after IndyCar’s warm-up session at Long Beach on Sunday morning was borne from what he perceived to be a lack of respect from the Andretti Autosport driver.
Castroneves was running at speed when Rossi exited the pits directly in front of him and held his line. The Brazilian ran into the back of Rossi’s car at the fountain, causing damage to his front wing and suspension that sidelined him from the remainder of the session, and prompted an animated tirade on NBC Sports’ broadcast.
“The guys coming out of the pits; they should take a look at what’s going on,” he said. “Totally unnecessary. Totally unnecessary. I’m totally pissed off about it. It’s ridiculous. It’s absolutely insane.”
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The four-time Indy winner, who will start today’s season finale from third on the grid, calmed down somewhat after returning to the paddock, but told RACER that his reaction stemmed as much from Rossi’s conduct as it did from the impact to his race preparation.
“It’s about courtesy,” he said. “When you are in practice and you’re coming out of the pits, take a look. I was already on it. Regardless of who it is, you’ve got to take a look. That’s why I was so mad. And apparently (Rossi) gave that option and then changed at the last minute. I don’t know if that happened or not, and that’s why I’m upset, because not only did it hurt my car, it hurt my practice.
“And that’s why I was so angry. If it’s a race, no question he should have done what he did, because it’s a race and you’ve got to keep going. That was my take on it. He might not agree. Everybody has their own conscience. I know how I conduct myself, but you cannot expect everybody to conduct themselves the same way.”
Contact in warm-up?
Yeah, today’s shaping up to be pretty intense.#INDYCAR // #AGPLB
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Under IndyCar’s rules, Rossi was not obliged to make way for Castroneves, and the incident was swiftly dismissed by race control. It was dismissed almost as quickly by Rossi himself, who suggested that the incident was an escalation in what he believes is a growing rift between the Honda stablemates.
“Since, Portland things have been brewing,” Rossi said. “(Castroneves) likes to jump in line when we’re all trying to get gaps. It happened yesterday, it happened at Portland. We haven’t really talked about it. The fact that he thinks any of that was my fault is hilarious. When you’re a four-time Indy 500 champion you’re entitled to your opinion, but he’s wrong. The Shank car didn’t help Colton (Herta) last week at Laguna, so I don’t know how much of (Honda) teammates we are.”
The notion of a brewing rivalry between Castroneves and the Andretti fleet came as news to Castroneves.
“Not that I know of,” he told RACER. “I wasn’t even in the ballgame at the last few races. I was always trying to stay out of the way. And that’s another reason (I was angry) — you always try to stay out of the way. I feel like sometimes people take that for granted and don’t pay attention, and especially when you have such a short time in practice… I just feel that the courtesy was lacking. Is it him or not? I don’t know. But it happens very often.”
Herta was fastest in the morning warm-up, leaning on a set of reds to produce a 1m08.4762s that placed him 0.1745s clear of Scott Dixon. Simon Pagenaud was third fastest and quickest of the drivers to spend the morning running the harder-compound Firestones, while championship contenders Alex Palou, Pato O’Ward and Josef Newgarden finished ninth, 12th and 13th fastest respectively.