McLaughlin apologetic to Grosjean for costly crash: “I don’t race like that”

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Two strong contenders for the race win in yesterday’s opening round of the IndyCar season unfortunately came together, thus missing out on what could have been a great day for both of them in St. Petersburg.

Pole sitter Romain Grosjean and 2022 St. Petersburg pole sitter race winner Scott McLaughlin had already had a moment on Lap 35, after the first round of pit stops. The Andretti driver had pitted three laps before McLaughlin, who almost made contact with him while coming out of the pit lane.

Later on, on Lap 71 the Team Penske driver rejoined the field after the final round of pit stops on colder tyres than Grosjean, who had pitted earlier, and tried to resume the battle against the Frenchman for the race lead by coming out of pits right ahead of him.

However, the two collided a corner later, ending their race in the tyre barriers at Turn 3.

Grosjean was rather upset in his interview with NBC in the immediate aftermath of the accident: “What happened was what you can see on TV, so I don’t want to elaborate too much on that. I’m very disappointed and I hope there’s going to be rules put in place.”

What had started as an amazing weekend for the team owned by Michael Andretti, with three cars qualifying in the top 6 and a front-row lockout, ended on a disastrous note, as all four drivers were taken out and didn’t finish the race.

“What a super weekend. We had a really fast car, the team did an amazing job, but I’m really annoyed to be talking while the race is still going on.”

Asked if the respect he had towards his younger colleague had been lost after the collision, Grosjean denied it, but he also didn’t downplay the size of the mistake made by the other driver:

“I still admire what he’s done, coming from V8 Supercars and he has done a really good job, but what we saw today on track is not racing.”

On the other hand, McLaughlin was extremely disappointed in himself while recollecting what went down after his exit from the pit lane:

“First and foremost I’m very sorry to Romain, he is a friend of mine and I knew we were both going for the win there. I just made a big mistake, I tried to push my cold tyres and just didn’t have the grip on the inside there like I had on the greens and locked the rears. Unfortunately we made wheel contact this time that took us both out.

“Look, I don’t race like that. I apologize, I feel that I’ve had plenty of good battles with many good drivers, just gutted for my Dex Energy and Chevy crew.”

The Penske driver had qualified in P5, and made it up to the lead with a clever tyre strategy, but it resulted in nothing after the collision.

“The fuel mileage was great and I just made a stuff-up, man. You have those: you have your good days and your bad days, and I really do have to apologize to Romain. I’ll go and see him soon.”

McLaughlin was told that his final result didn’t place him too far down the order in P13, thus at not too much disadvantage in an eventual fight for the championship win, but he was too upset and focused on his own wrongdoing to consider it positive:

“I don’t care about that right now, I concentrate on my own mistakes, I need to be better than that and I need to make better decisions, but ultimately, I think I was just racing for the win, I knew we could have had a chance if we’d got out in front of him at Turn 4.

“Big apologies. I was just racing hard, man, I promise I don’t race like that, so I’m very gutted. But anyways we finished the race, but I’ll go man-up and see Romain now,” he concluded.

The New Zealander managed to apologise to his “friend” Grosjean, with videos of the two of them hugging issued on their social media profiles.

Photo credits: Joe Skibinski.