IndyCar

Rahal angered by Grosjean’s IndyCar Barber aggression

In the closing laps of the Grand Prix of Alabama, the Rahal Letterman Lanigan driver was trying to get around Scott McLaughlin’s Team Penske while fending off Grosjean.

Rahal was having to keep an eye on his fuel mileage having gone for a two-stop strategy, whereas Grosjean’s Andretti Autosport team had put him on a three-stopper, so his tyres had more life.

On lap 87, Grosjean dived down the inside of Rahal at Turn 5, the track’s primary passing point.

Rahal took an outside line, but carried more speed through the turn, and when Grosjean realised his pass had failed, his front wheels twice made contact with Rahal’s sidepod, once at the front, once at the back.

When Grosjean came over the radio to say that Rahal hit him on the exit, Rahal radioed to his team saying, “This guy’s a punk! He hit me on purpose.”

Later, speaking to NBC’s Kevin Lee, Rahal said: “I think it’s clear, watching the in-car camera, just look at the angle of his head. I knew Romain was going to divebomb me. I’d already been warned that’s what he’s doing.”

As he watched the onboard footage from his own car, Rahal added, “Look, we’re already straight, there. Why are you turning in to me?”

He went on: “I’m just frustrated because this isn’t the first time. In St. Pete he hit everybody he could hit. We come here and he hit Rossi, hit Herta, hit me. At some point we’ve got to clean up our act.”

Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

Photo by: Phillip Abbott / Motorsport Images

Asked if Race Control should punish Grosjean, Rahal replied: “As another driver in the series told me, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, and it’s kind of been his reputation over his whole career in Europe and we’re learning his reputation quickly here.

“If Race Control doesn’t want to do anything, then they’re not going to do anything but when we go and punt him, they better not do anything to me. In the past, I’ve been penalised for a lot less than that.”

Grosjean, who eventually passed Rahal on the last lap when the RLL car ran out of fuel, downplayed the incident.

Grosjean said: “Ah yeah, we touched a couple of times but it was good racing. It was tough out there. Barber is a very good track but very hard to pass, especially when you’re in a train. If the guy ahead of you doesn’t have anyone in front then he can try a different line, but there we were all in line so it was quite tricky.”

On watching the footage, he said: “So here we touch a bit and here we touch again. It’s good racing, I guess. It’s IndyCar, wheel-to-wheel action.”

Asked if Rahal’s accusation was correct that he had deliberately bumped the RLL car, Grosjean chuckled and said, “No no, it was just hard racing. I was late on the brakes as he was, he had a bit more grip on the outside line, I was a bit deep in the corner. But it was a gentle touch and it was OK.”

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