Ericsson call Indy 500 conclusion “unfair and dangerous” after narrow defeat


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Marcus Ericsson was left fuming after narrowly missing his chance to score a second consecutive victory in the Indianapolis 500.

The Indy 500 was red-flagged a total of three times, the last of which necessitated a one-lap sprint following just one formation lap out of the pits. Ericsson led that restart, but was passed by Josef Newgarden on the final tour.

“I just thought it was an unfair and dangerous end to the race,” Ericsson said after the race came down to a one-lap sprint after a crash with four laps remaining.

A multi-car accident involving the Benjamin Pedersen and Ed Carpenter set up the last restart. Ericsson had taken the lead after a previous restart.

“I don’t think there was enough laps to go when the yellow came, so I think it should have finished under yellow,” he said.

“We’ve never done a restart out of the pits, we don’t get the tyres up to temperature.”

Ericsson said the delay in throwing the final red flag led to an unprecedent final-lap restart. “They should have called it earlier. If they wanted a red, they should have called a red earlier. I think when they kept it going, then I think they should have called it.”

The Ganassi driver said there was nothing more he could have done to keep Newgarden behind him at the end. “I think we did everything right behind the wheel.

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“I did an awesome last restart – I caught Josef completely off-guard and got the gap, and kept the lead into turn one, which no one has done all day. But I just couldn’t hold it on the back (straight). I was flat, but I couldn’t hold it.”

Newgarden passed Ericsson after a final lap restart
Despite the frustration over his defeat, Ericsson praised Newgarden, who scored his first win in the race at his 12th attempt.

“Congratulations to Josef, he did everything right as well. He’s a worthy champion. But I’m just very disappointed with the way that ended. I don’t think that was fair.

“I feel like we did everything right, I feel like we won that race, and then it sort of got taken away from us. It is what it is. It’s tough to swallow, for sure.”

Ericsson found himself on the receiving end of aggressive defending from Newgarden on the run to the chequered flag. But he harbours no ill feelings towards Newgarden for the way that he raced.

“I mean, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to win this race. I knew he was going to do it. I still tried to get a run on him, but it was not enough, unfortunately. He did it well.”

Newgarden dived beneath the pit entrance dividing line as they sprinted to the line. “I don’t think it was too bad,” Ericsson said. “For me, it’s fine to keep doing what we’re doing. It’s okay for me, I think.”

Ericsson came just 0.097 seconds away from being the first back-to-back winner of the Indianapolis 500 since Hélio Castroneves in 2001 and 2002 – and only the fifth driver ever to win the race in consecutive years.

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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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15 comments on “Ericsson call Indy 500 conclusion “unfair and dangerous” after narrow defeat”

  1. Arguably, given the yellow flew before they crossed the line, the 2nd last re-start should have been called off, meaning that the final 1 lap sprint would have been same running order (ie: Newgarden to lead). I’m not a fan of 1 lap sprints. They seem to be all the rage now. Indy 2.5 race.

  2. I do agree with Marcus that what Indycar did was unprecedented, never done before. Don’t know enough about the rules to state if it was within the rules or not. Probably in the “discretion” of the race director. Not sure if it was really dangerous, in particular if you look at how much risk the drivers take in the last 20-30 laps. All the red flags were due to too much risk taking by the drivers.

    But it is understandable that you don’t want a race like the Indy 500 to end under yellow if it is possible to avoid it. So a right decision to red flag it, and then start from pitlane for just one lap sprint.

    1. @gmp You’re right, IndyCar’s rulebook effectively gives the race director carte blanche to restart in any way they like: Abandonment of Procedures – INDYCAR may abandon any or all Yellow Condition procedures…

  3. I think drivers are conscious that cars are safer than they used to be so they drive more recklessly and aggressively in their desperation to win. The race director have any choice but to come up with something like this.

  4. I have a feeling he wouldn’t be saying this if that restart went his way.
    “I feel like we won that race,” – that’s a wrong thing to say. He benefited from the 2nd restart as much as Newgarden did from the 3rd. It was anybody’s race each of the time and it was never his more than anybody else’s until the chequered flag.

  5. Could all the future GPs be a last lap sprint? It would save everybodys time and we would see GP full of action. If there is a crash in that one lap then we would do another 1 lap sprint? Is this where the world of motorsport is going…

    1. Qeki, you make it seem like it wasn’t only the top 3 cars that had a chance to win, which is obviously not true.

    2. Josh (@canadianjosh)
      29th May 2023, 9:26

      It’s been this way in some series for a while now

  6. Josh (@canadianjosh)
    29th May 2023, 9:25

    Over 300,000 fans in the stands and infield paid for entertainment and that’s what we got. Racing is entrainment and races that end under yellow is the biggest buzz kill a race fan could ask for. Good on the officials.

    1. Racing is also a sport. It’s a sport for you only if you find it entertaining enough without it being treated and governed like entertainment (circus). Sure, because of money, lines are and will be crossed. That’s because some people only want more, want it now, want it bigger, stronger, louder, only quantity, something to last enough for them to drink up all the beer they can handle. Much action, because they can’t be bothered to enjoy or at least understand the finesse of they sport they “love”, and they can’t appreciate what the athletes are doing. They don’t care if those drivers are treated like clowns, as long as it’s fun(ny). Sure, circus is fun (or is it?), but should we turn libraries into those too? Why do we have to cheapen everything… Why can’t people increase their attention span to something longer than five seconds?

  7. He is right that the final red flag could easily have been called a lap earlier. The commentary team was thinking they’d finish under yellow for quite a while.

  8. greasemonkey
    30th May 2023, 0:34

    At least they cannot change tires under red. It would be really ridiculous if they had allowed that.

  9. As a refresher, watch the last two laps on YouTube. How was the end unfair? Ericsson had a big lead initially and certainly had plenty of opportunity to win. Newgarden made a fantastic pass at the end and totally deserves the win. Congrats Newgarden!

    1. Plus, he takes home $1.043M for second place ($3.7M for Newgarden). That should ease the pain.

  10. I agree with Marcus. They would do anything to have an American /Newgarden win the race.

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