Michael Andretti admitted on Tuesday that the meltdown of his IndyCar team in Mid-Ohio was unacceptable, saying his four drivers are expected to work together as teammates for the remainder of the season.
Andretti led an emergency meeting after Sunday’s race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, where a break in the Andretti Autosport line-up was fully revealed.
Romain Grosjean and Alexander Rossi played bumper cars in a race for personal position. Rossi also hit rookie teammate Devlin DeFrancesco, Grosjean hit Colton Herta and IndyCar penalized both Rossi and Grosjean for avoidable contact.
After the race, team owner Andretti saw a heated conversation with Rossi’s father, and he pulled all four drivers in to discuss the debacle.
“Our race results in Mid-Ohio did not go as planned. Sunday’s display was disappointing and unacceptable and not the way we operate — on or off the track,” Andretti said in a statement to The Associated Press on Tuesday.
“Racing is a passionate sport and we have four very competitive drivers, but we are one team at Andretti and our drivers have to remember that we expect them to work together to improve the team. That’s the way it goes forward.”
Grosjean raced in Formula 1 for nearly a decade before his time in the series ended in a crash in 2020 from which he escaped the burning wreckage of his car, earning him the nickname ‘The Phoenix’. He switched to IndyCar the following season and outperformed driving for Dale Coyne Racing, helping the Frenchman secure a better place at league-leader Andretti Autosport.
Rossi decided earlier this year that his seventh season with Andretti would be his last. The winner of the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 in 2016 has signed with Arrow McLaren SP for 2023.
Grosjean and Rossi raced against each other five times in F1 in 2015, when Rossi got a handful of starts for Manor Marussia. Grosjean finished 13th and Rossi took 14th in Rossi’s F1 debut. Rossi’s time in F1 ran out towards the end of that season and he has been with Andretti ever since.
He and Grosjean don’t care about each other, and Grosjean didn’t flinch from the lecture in Mid-Ohio after the boss’s race. Grosjean called Rossi “an absolute idiot” subsequently.
Rossi emphasized that he was determined to work as part of the Andretti organization for the remaining seven races, but declined to comment further.
The Andretti organization has only had one win so far this season – Herta on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway – and Rossi in eighth place is the highest-ranked Andretti driver in the standings. Grosjean has one podium finish and is in 14th place.
The organization was also not as competitive at the Indy 500, the one race that the team owner cares most about winning. Rossi in fifth place was the highest-finishing Andretti driver and the three late laps led by Marco Andretti were the only laps an Andretti car shot up the field.
More AP car racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports