McLaughlin apologises for ‘stuff-up’ which ended Grosjean’s race


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Scott McLaughlin took full responsibility for his collision with Romain Grosjean, which put the pole-winner out of yesterday’s race.

The pair found themselves battling for the lead of the IndyCar Grand Prix of St. Petersburg after the final round of pit stops. However the leaders collided at turn four, crashing into the tyre barriers.

Grosjean’s damage was terminal, leaving him visibly furious. He is yet to win a race since joining the IndyCar field two years ago, and hasn’t taken a professional racing victory in nearly 12 years.

McLaughlin, last year’s winner on the street track, took full responsibility for the incident in a post-race interview with television reporter Kevin Lee. “I need to be better than that,” McLaughlin said bluntly. “I need to make better decisions.”

“First and foremost, I’m very sorry to Romain. He’s a friend of mine, and I know we were both going for the win there. I just made a big mistake.”

Grosjean led the field away to start the new season
McLaughlin made his final pit stop on lap 71 in Sunday’s 100-lap race, switching to the harder primary tyre compound. Grosjean had pitted a lap earlier and McLaughlin re-entered the circuit just ahead of his rival before the apex of the tricky right-hand kink at turn three.

Sensing an opportunity to retake the lead around a circuit where on-track overtaking was difficult, Grosjean tried to get past McLaughlin around the outside of turn four. McLaughlin covered the inside line but locked up in the braking zone and skidded into the side of Grosjean’s car, the resulting contact put them both into the tyre barrier.

“I tried to push on cold tyres,” said McLaughlin. “I just didn’t have the grip on the inside there like I did on the greens, locked the rears, and unfortunately we made wheel contact that time, and it just took us both out.”

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The two had another close call earlier in the race following the first round of pit stops, when McLaughlin came out after his first pit stop on lap 35 just ahead of Grosjean. That gave McLaughlin the net lead of the race, and he moved to the head of the field after the remaining front-runners made their first stops.

The Andretti driver led 31 laps on Sunday
With the memory of Grosjean’s on-track skirmishes with Graham Rahal at Barber Motorsport Park and Josef Newgarden in Nashville still fresh in the minds of many – as well as the displeasure with which both Rahal and Newgarden spoke of their experiences racing with Grosjean – McLaughlin went out of his way to assure that his mistake was not a malicious act.

“I don’t race like that,” he said, shaking his head. “I apologise. I feel like I’ve had plenty of good battles with many good drivers.”

“I just made a stuff-up, man. You have those – you have your good days, and your bad days, and I really do apologise to Romain.”

“But ultimately, I was just racing for the win. I knew we could have had a chance if we got out in front of him at turn four there. I was just racing hard, and I promise I don’t race like that. I feel gutted.” McLaughlin finished one lap down in 13th after repairs.

Grosjean, in the immediate aftermath of his retirement, was understandably upset about the incident. “I think it was pretty obvious on TV, so I’m not going to elaborate on that,” Grosjean said about the collision. “I’m very, very disappointed, and I hope there is going to be rules put in place.”

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“Today what we saw on track is not racing.”

This looked like being weekend the ten-year Formula 1 veteran would get his first IndyCar win, after qualifying on pole for the first time since his rookie season. The 36-year-old was also keen to put a disappointing start to his time with Andretti last year behind him.

Instead, Grosjean became the third Andretti driver to retire from yesterday’s race due to collision damage. Colton Herta was stuffed into the tyre barriers after a safety car restart and Devlin DeFrancesco was launched into the air in a multi-car accident on the very first lap.

“We had an amazing weekend, we had a super fast car, and the team did a really good job,” says Grosjean, adding he was “very annoyed” to retire from the race.

Nonetheless Grosjean said he held no grudge towards McLaughlin. “I admire what he’s done,” he said. “He’s come from V8 Supercars and has done unbelievably.”

The two drivers reconciled when they met face-to-pace in the paddock later in the evening.

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Author information

RJ O'Connell
Motorsport has been a lifelong interest for RJ, both virtual and ‘in the carbon’, since childhood. RJ picked up motorsports writing as a hobby...

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4 comments on “McLaughlin apologises for ‘stuff-up’ which ended Grosjean’s race”

  1. Even though McLaughlin has apologized, I think Grosjean should have backed off. It looked to me as he had the corner and Romain’s move around the outside was too risky and not enough room. Sure would have loved to see that fight continue longer. Crazy race, very entertaining!

    1. Had RG backed off there, McLaughlin would’ve won. That was his one and only chance of winning this race, he had to try.

      1. It seems Grosjean likes being the martyr more than being on the podium.

        I doubt McLaughlin would’ve won, for the last several seasons no one at that speed with cold tires, going sharp into that particular corner have been able to hold that corner, it was obvious during practice and quali and many previous races. If Grosj backed off he could have continued around the corner while McLaughlin continued into the barrier. It wasn’t the last lap, They had 30 more laps to go in the race. If Grosjean backed off, he would be on the podium and would have another chance in those 30 laps to win the race.

        1. In any scenario that leads to McLaughlin crashing in this situation, he is taking Grosjean out with him, either by directly wiping him out or by crashing right in front of him so he can’t avoid him (kind of like the VeeKay / Harvey / Kirkwood deal). So for Grosjean to sufficiently back off would mean to yield the racing line to McLaughlin and let him go through safely. And by the time they get to the next passing point McLaughlin’s tires would be up to working temp so Grosjean would’ve missed his chance. It was either pass here or let McLaughlin win.
          Similar to Sato’s last lap crash at the 2012 Indy 500. Go for the win and risk the crash or settle for second.

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