Lexington, Ohio — As Scott McLaughlin fourth on the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Coursea full-blown crisis raged across the paddock for Andretti Autosport with Romain Grosjean furious with teammates Alexander Rossi.
Team owner Michael Andretti stormed away from Alexander Rossi’s pit stand after contact between Rossi and team-mate Romain Grosjean knocked them both off course, and Andretti was later seen arguing with Rossi’s father.
Rossi is leaving Andretti at the end of the season to drive for Arrow McLaren SP, but it seems tensions and emotions have already boiled over between him and his upcoming former team-mates.
“He’s an absolute idiot,” Grosjean told reporters after the race† “Sorry.”
Rossi and Grosjean had had repeated wheel-to-wheel contact and one of the bumps knocked the wheel out of Rossi’s hands, rendering him unable to turn as both cars drifted off course.
“What the hell is wrong with him?” Grosjean shouted.
Grosjean was less than happy to receive team orders later to help Rossi finish.
“What do you want me to do? Just block everyone behind you and don’t continue?” Grosjean asked.
When he said Andretti Autosport expected Grosjean to block traffic to help his teammates, the Frenchman declined.
“Because Rossi put me in the wall, so I’m not going to protect him,” Grosjean replied.
Grosjean was then briefed on the bet via team radio: “Rossi is not a lap lower, you are.”
Rossi finished 19th, Grosjean 21st and Colton Herta spun mid-race after contacting Grosjean to finish 15th, the best of the Andretti four-car fleet.
“I have to apologize to Colton,” said Grosjean, who was sanctioned for avoidable contact. “I had a lot more grip than everyone else, so I just braked. I didn’t realize Colton would brake so early. So I tried to avoid contact. That was not good on my part, but I think it will be until today, it’s just that Rossi is an absolute idiot out there.”
The Formula 1 veteran, who joined Andretti this season, said he appreciated Michael Andretti’s meeting with his drivers after the race.
“It wasn’t pleasant, but it was good that he did it,” Grosjean said. “I understand that he is frustrated and not happy with us.”
Grosjean was still very unhappy with Rossi’s move.
“I don’t know why he does that,” Grosjean said. “He’s on black (tyres), I’m on red. I’m on the outside and I carry more speed through the corner. It did it once on reboot. Okay, maybe he slipped on cold tires. Do it again the next round and then he did it on purpose. My hand hurts. We lost the bloody race.”
Rossi downplayed the drama after the race.
“Just a racing incident,” he said. “He was on a softer tire and will probably be able to get around me, but he likes to do it fast and early. I had to test him there and of course it’s a shame to tap into a teammate, but that’s how it goes.”
Rossi, who was also sanctioned by IndyCar officials for avoidable contact, also met a teammate Devlin DeFrancesco, who finished 17th.
When asked if he races Andretti drivers differently now that he knows he will be leaving the team, Rossi replied no.
“Of course not. We are teammates for Andretti Autosport and we are trying to get the best possible result,” he said.
In Andretti Autosport’s post-race release, the team noted that “a series of incidents among teammates cost valuable track positions. The melee created high tensions and lowered final results.”