Start, IndyCar, Pocono, 2019

“I drove straight”: Sato responds after Rossi blames him for Pocono crash


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Takuma Sato has defended his role in the spectacular first-lap crash during yesterday’s Pocono 500 after Alexander Rossi described his driving as “disgraceful”.

The pair made contact approaching turn two on the first lap of the race, triggering a multi-car pile-up which also claimed Ryan Hunter-Reay, Felix Rosenqvist and James Hunchcliffe. All five drivers were unharmed in the crash which took place at over 200mph, despite Rosenqvist and Sato’s cars flipping over. A crash between Hunter-Reay and Robert Wickens at the same corner last year left Wickens with paralysis.

Rossi, whose championship hopes suffered a blow due to the crash, blamed Sato for the collision. “We were three-wide,” he said. “Ryan was on the inside, I was in the middle and Takuma was on the outside.

“I can’t even begin to understand how after last year Takuma thinks that any sort of driving like that is acceptable. To turn across two cars, at that speed, in that corner at a 500-mile race is disgraceful, upsetting and may have cost us a championship. It’s upsetting.”

However Sato said the track seams had contributed to the incident. “Ryan and I were obviously racing at the exit of turn one and it looks like Alexander had a slow start. We both went right and left and I thought it was all clear.

“All the [track] seams also are putting the car really easy to get the lane change and everybody gets close. Unfortunately, it looks like we made contact for that.”

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Sato later published images and video on social media indicating Rossi moved right towards him prior to the collision.

“I’m sorry I was involved with Alexander Rossi for the championship,” wrote Sato. “Looks like he was squeezed both Ryan and I, and if you reference seams, Alex clearly moved up. We all racing very close and unfortunately we made contact.”

“I didn’t mean I was blaming Alex at all,” Sato added. “I just said the facts and I apologised for the situation on my previous tweet.”

“I just drove straight,” he added.

Hunter-Reay was also unimpressed by the incident. “The opening lap wreck was ridiculous and thank God everybody was alright,” he said. “It’s so unfortunate at the beginning of a 500 mile race.”

Rosenqvist, who was cleared by doctors after being taken to a trauma centre for checks, said he had “minor back pain and some headache” after the crash.

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“Hopefully I should be back to normal in a couple of days. A big thanks to the IndyCar track staff and medical staff, did an awesome job looking after everything.

“Luckily the other drivers are OK as well, I think that’s the main thing. A shame that we were caught out already on lap one. I think we had a good car today.”

Hinchcliffe, who like Hunter-Reay was also involved in last year’s crash, said he was unable to avoid the collision in front of him. “I thought I was actually going to save us because it happened in front of me. I couldn’t see exactly what started it, but then the wreck sort of moved down to the inside.

“I was able to slow down, but it just slid out to where I was. There was nowhere I could go. It sucks. I mean it wasn’t too hard a hit, so glad everybody is OK.

“It’s a 500 mile race, I don’t know how many times we have to do this before people figure out that you can attack all you want, but it doesn’t give you a chance to win if you are in the fence.”

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Takuma Sato’s view of the Pocono crash


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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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26 comments on ““I drove straight”: Sato responds after Rossi blames him for Pocono crash”

  1. FlyingLobster27
    19th August 2019, 11:30

    When drivers are going three abreast, often one of them doesn’t know it, and the guy in the middle gets sandwiched. Of course, at 200 mph, such a situation is extremely dangerous, and it’s remarkable that no-one was injured.
    From Rossi and Sato’s angles, it seems to me the one who wasn’t aware was Hunter-Reay – but stay with me, I am not blaming RHR! – as he had no reason to believe, let alone expect, Sato was above Rossi. When Rossi lifted out of Dixon’s wing, Hunter-Reay may have been expecting to be able to pull up closer to Dixon, and Rossi might have wanted to slot in behind Dixon to pick the tow back up after lifting… but Sato had dived into the space and was about to get boxed in by Dixon ahead and Rossi below.
    Everyone was racing, really. If anything, arguably Sato’s move was quite ambitious, going around the outside of two cars then probably having to switch low to keep the benefit of the slingshot and pass Dixon, so he’s getting the stick.

  2. Sato should just man up and say he made a mistake. He clearly moved inside too early, misjudging how quickly he was slipstreaming and trying to cut across to grab another slipstream.

    All ovals are dangerous, Pocono gets hard shrift but mostly drivers respect each other, they seemed shell shocked yesterday that after the terrible accident Wickens had last year someone would be so foolhardy. And now he wont admit he was culpable.

    On the plus side Ferrucci looks a future star. His judgement on when to go high and to avoid trouble has been outstanding this year, particularly for a rookie

    1. Looks more like neither driver could keep perfectly straight due to buffeting and rough track surface. They were BOTH too close, Rossi moved ever so slightly up, Sato moved ever so slightly down. That’s all I can see from the replays. Racing incident.

      1. So that’s you and Sato with that view then.

        If that’s a racing incident they all are.

      2. Yeah, Rossi just moved to the right and forced the contact. It wasn’t Sato’s fault, but I’m not sure it was Rossi’s fault either, it was a dangerous situation.

    2. It seems Sato didn’t move as quickly to the left as other angles initially made it appear. But he was coming from behind and therefore the best-placed of the three drivers to avoid the collision.

      1. F1 fan here. I dont see anything wrong with that Sato move. There was a big enough gap, he had the speed and went for it. I also see him driving straight and getting hit on the backwheel……
        Why is everyone hating on the guy, looks like a racing incident to me.

        1. Ok watched Rossi onboard, Rossi is driving at an minimal angle to towards the wall and Sato is actually the one straight in my opinions. Racing incident, rossi wasnt expecting sato to come through and was caught out and couldnt adjust his steering because the car on his left was also coming towards him.
          Still not satos fault in my opinion. Racing incident…… stop hating on the guy lol

          1. Rossi is driving at an minimal angle to towards the wall and Sato is actually the one straight in my opinions.

            I’d agree. But RHR was also driving at the same angle as Rossi, at which point, Sato should be aware that they’re slightly moving up the track and should go with them. Instead he stayed straight, so the collision was always going to happen.

          2. Yeah but if Rossi had checked his mirrors he would have seen Sato next to him and could have adjusted his steering. It would have meant him hitting RHR yes but thats why I’m calling it a racing incident. Unfortunate circumstances leading to the crash.

          3. I think Valinor is mostly correct. It was a racing incident for sure and there is really nobody to blame.

  3. Yeah… but no Takuma.
    Watch Graham Rahal’ or Ferucci’s onboard. It was clearly Sato who caused it.

  4. I mean Sato can say he drove straight but that’s not what it looks like on the footage – it looks like he moves across on Rossi too early. Given what happened last year you’d think he’d not be quite so aggressive.

    1. I’m not sure… Looking at Sato’s footage, it paints a totally different picture. He was straight steering wise, but was maybe tracking at a slight angle relative to the forward track direction. So it looks like Rossi must have gotten pinched, or at the very least it was super tight. Rossi’s slight dip to the right to avoid RHR was all it took to set off the chain reaction.

      1. It looks like Sato’s car gets sucked to the left a little, wind perhaps or a deflating tyre? Almost everyone seems to blame Takuma, but looking at his onboard, I really don’t see him do anything wrong. His car weaved to the left just before impact, but not because of his steering input.

        1. Nah he goes straight, the moment he gets “sucked” to the left is when he gets hit.

          1. And with that i mean its because of contact that he get sucked to the left. Not before the contact.

  5. Maybe I haven’t seen the right reply yet, but this just looks like normal oval racing. Yes maybe somebody could have done something differently and prevented it. But to expect 3 wide around Pocono to work very long is silly.

  6. After watching Sato’s on-board many times (which is insane) it doesn’t look like he turns in on Rossi. The steering wheel remains straight and he doesn’t turn left, but other camera shots appear that he turned in. Maybe the car just got a bit sideways?

    Glad everyone is OK. I say leave Pocono as it’s too dangerous for current IndyCar speeds.

    1. Ryan Hunter-Reay is quoted as saying: “The steering weight is very heavy this way [left] and very light to the right. It’s a very strange feeling. Once you’re in the corner, the steering becomes lighter to the left. And you come out of the corner, it becomes heavier to the right.

      Even when you leave the pitbox, it’s very hard to go right out of the pitlane because you’re tuning the car a way it doesn’t want to go, it wants to go left so it takes some getting used too.”

      1. I dont watch indy and it looks to me sato was completely straight. It looks like the 2 others were very slightly going towards the outside of the corner and Rossi got caught out by sato, couldnt straighten the car because there was another car next to him at the same angle.

    2. The fact Sato is not steering left doesn’t mean the car is not going left. Indycars have to be turned right on ovals just to go straight.

  7. Very hard driving by Sato but i cant really see any wrong no matter how hard i try. Yes he cuts in front of Rossi but he doesnt turn into him and hes past him with all but the rear wheels before they collide. Rossi has no reason to just slowly drift into Sato, At the collision he can claim he was pinched but he should have taken action earlier.

  8. I looked at the cameras at YT slowly and thought that Hunter-Heay is pushing Rossi to the right, and he touches Sato, all based on the black line on the track, and especially Ryan’s camera.
    The fact is that Ryan was also responsible for the Wickens accident a year ago.

  9. Sato’s on-board – Up to 220 mph, then backwards and upside down with sparks flying like a NASA launch. The world goes by in a hurry at 220.

    His steering wheel doesn’t move when going across Rossi. I’d say a racing incident. Bad things can happen at 220 mph average speed. For some reason Pocono has bad mojo.

  10. Driving in circles
    20th August 2019, 23:04

    It is clear when you watch this video that Sato made a mistake but unfortunately he doesn’t man up to it

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