Michael Andretti calls Mid-Ohio team actions unacceptable

Jul 5, 2022, 2:29 AM | Updated: 2:30 pm
Pato O'Ward leads the field at the drop of the green flag during an IndyCar auto race at Mid-Ohio S...

Pato O'Ward leads the field at the drop of the green flag during an IndyCar auto race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, Sunday, July 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Tom E. Puskar)

(AP Photo/Tom E. Puskar)

Michael Andretti acknowledged Tuesday that the meltdown of his IndyCar team at Mid-Ohio was unacceptable and said his four drivers will be expected to work together as teammates the remainder of the season.

Andretti led an emergency meeting after Sunday’s race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, where a fracture in the Andretti Autosport lineup was fully revealed.

Romain Grosjean and Alexander Rossi played bumper cars in a race for position that turned personal. 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 was seen having a heated conversation with Rossi’s father, and he pulled all four drivers inside 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 Tuesday in a statement provided to The Associated Press.

“Racing is a passionate sport and we have four highly competitive drivers; however we are one team at Andretti and our drivers need to remember that we expect them to work together for the betterment of the team. That’s the way it will be going forward.”

Grosjean raced for nearly a decade in Formula One before his time in the series ended in a 2020 crash from which he escaped from the burning wreckage of his car, earning the nickname “The Phoenix.” He switched to IndyCar the next season and overperformed while driving for Dale Coyne Racing, which helped the Frenchman land a better seat at front-runner 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 driving for Manor Marussia. Grosjean finished 13th and Rossi was 14th in Rossi’s F1 debut. Rossi’s time in F1 ran out at the end of that season and he’s been with Andretti since.

He and Grosjean don’t care for each other, and Grosjean didn’t back down following the Mid-Ohio postrace lecture from the boss. Grosjean called Rossi “an absolute idiot” afterward.

Rossi stressed that he was committed to working as part of the Andretti organization through the remaining seven races but declined to comment further.

The Andretti organization has just one win so far this season — Herta on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway — and Rossi at eighth is the highest-ranked Andretti driver in the standings. Grosjean has one podium finish and is ranked 14th.

The organization also wasn’t all that competitive at the Indy 500, the one race the team owner cares most about winning. Rossi in fifth was the highest-finishing Andretti driver and the three late laps led by Marco Andretti were the only laps that an Andretti car paced the field.

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Michael Andretti calls Mid-Ohio team actions unacceptable