Pagenaud wants “big change” to turn 4 run-off at Mid-Ohio following practice crash: “Unacceptable”

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Following the tragic death of Dilano van ‘t Holff at Spa-Francorchamps earlier in the day in FRECA, racing fans around the world breathed a huge sigh of relief as Simon Pagenaud walked away from a massive accident during second practice at Mid-Ohio.

Heading down to turn 4 around five minutes into the session, the Frenchman had no brakes and no control of his car as it went towards the gravel. The car pitched in it and he flipped over a number of times before eventually stopping upside down just before the tyre barrier at the end of a sizable run-off area.

The former Indy 500 and overall series champion walked away uninjured, although he did miss qualifying due to IndyCar protocols.

Photo credit: Penske Entertainment | Travis Hinkle

Pagenaud explained he lost the brakes suddenly as they worked fine at turn 2.

“I had no brakes. The pedal was to the floor. So I had no deceleration whatsoever in the section of the track, that’s the worst. And I wouldn’t want to do it in the Keyhole either.

“Everything was fine going from turn two. I went down the hill, everything was fine, I was trying to brake deep, but something broke. We’ve got to figure out what it is.”

During a race in 1998, Michael Andretti had a massive shunt as he made contact trying to pass a car and continually rolled over in the same spot as the 39-year-old Frenchman.

“I’m joining a legend, which is cool. But not for the right reason.”

Unsurprisingly, the French star was extremely thankful for the safety improvements made by IndyCar.

“Thankfully IndyCar has done a tremendous job on safety. I was very thankful during the role for the aeroscreen. I think it really had a huge impact on me being here talking in a good shape. So very, very thankful for that and the safety that the sport has gone through.”

Pagenaud then went on to call out the lack of safety improvements made by the venue itself since Andretti’s accident.

“It’s going to be harsh what I’m going to say, but it’s unacceptable for a track to have this type of run-off. That [run-off] hasn’t evolved in 30 years, 20 years, I don’t know how long. It’s crazy.”

Photo credit: Penske Entertainment | Travis Hinkle

The 15-time IndyCar winner went further into detail about his displeasure about the run-off area down at turn 4.

“Yeah, I think they need to learn. I mean, you should never have… that’s my opinion, but honestly, it should be everybody’s opinion. I don’t care. But you should never have a drop-off after the racetrack, because what’s going to happen, at high speed, the car is going to take off. And that’s what happened.

“When I land, I land in the gravel, which ditched the car and sent it into a roll. So, it’s inevitable. You know when you’re going to crash there that it’s going to be a huge one.

“I could have gone straight, but I would have taken off as well. Who knows what would have happened? I could have missed the wall and go further.

“So, my choice was to try to make the corner, because I knew that was the worst place on the schedule to actually go off.

“So, yeah, that definitely needs to be a big change here. I just don’t know why it’s not changing.”

Recalling the moment, Pagenaud explained he remembers every single detail of what happened because he never banged his head during the multiple rolls.

“Those moments are survival mode. It’s crazy what the brain can do. In those moments, you can slow down everything and do things that usually you can’t do.

“I can certainly see every single millisecond of the crash. I know exactly how many rolls I did. I know where the wall was coming.

“And you have time to have concerns? Yes. But I knew exactly what happened and I knew what was happening. It’s just a matter of when is it going to stop.”

As per a press release from IndyCar, the Frenchman was not cleared for qualifying. The Meyer Shank Racing driver stated why.

He was also fully understanding that the brain needs protecting from any potential symptoms appearing after a few hours.

“I’m not cleared yet to drive. So, it was a pretty big impact. There’s a threshold that I went above. That needs to be part of the protocol.

“They will decide what’s next for me this weekend. I feel fine, but you’ve got to be careful. The brain is something you can’t check just like that. So, obviously, no bruises, very safe.

“But when you roll like that, you’ve got to be careful with the brain.

“When it happened, it was the biggest surprise of my life.”