LEXINGTON, Ohio (AP) — Michael Andretti wants Formula One to believe he should be the team to fly the American flag in the world’s most popular motorsports series.
The collapse of your flagship IndyCar team at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course may be your Netflix audition tape.
Andretti Autosport has been rocky all season, the first with F1’s Romain Grosjean and “Drive to Survive” fame and the last with Alexander Rossi, winner of the 100th race of the Indianapolis 500 and the least fun driver of IndyCar.
Grosjean is new to the team — he replaced popular Andretti stalwart Ryan Hunter-Reay — and Andretti needs “The Phoenix” and his star power in Andretti’s broad multi-series lineup.
And Grosjean is legitimately a star. He was a featured driver in Netflix’s behind-the-scenes F1 docudrama and an entire episode revolves around the 2020 near-fatal fire that ended his F1 career and brought him to the United States to compete in IndyCar.
Rossi doesn’t like Grosjean.
That’s fine because Grosjean doesn’t like Rossi either.
And it’s up to Andretti to handle the situation and save his organization from embarrassment at a 60-year-old racetrack relic located in central Ohio.
Rossi decided long ago that this seventh season would be his last with Andretti, the owner who bet on the Californian when he left F1. He leaves for Arrow McLaren SP and Andretti has already signed Kyle Kirkwood to replace him.
Andretti’s smart move would have been to immediately quell any roster tension.
After all, F1 is watching.
Andretti has been working overtime trying to persuade F1 to expand its grid for a two-car “Andretti Global” effort. A true American team, he argued, would bring new sponsorship wealth to a rapidly growing series across North America.
Most of today’s F1 teams think Andretti is delusional. They don’t mind bringing the Andretti name back to F1 and most are already signing multi-million dollar deals with North American-based companies. At Charlotte Douglas International Airport on Monday, NASCAR’s transportation hub featured F1 driver Lando Norris in a Tumi ad on the main commercial thoroughfare.
Adding two cars to put Andretti’s name on the grid is seen by most F1 teams as nothing more than a dilution of their guaranteed earnings.
It’s up to Andretti to prove his worth to these guardians of the club he so desperately wants to join. And while Mid-Ohio showed that their organization packs all the action needed for a complete “Drive to Survive” story, it might not have been the aspect Andretti wants to analyze.
Rossi smashed Grosjean Y rookie Devlin DeFrancesco. Grosjean tore through Colton Herta and defied team orders to block traffic for Rossi. IndyCar imposed avoidable contact penalties on both Grosjean and Rossi. Herta, in 15th place, was Andretti’s car with the best finish.
It was so ugly that Andretti Autosport summed it up on Sunday in its post-race press release: “With the green falling, the drivers worked their way up the course before a round of incidents between teammates cost valuable positions. on the track The tumult caused high tensions and lowered the final results.”
That’s putting it mildly.
Andretti was openly furious when their cars collided with each other. He had a heated conversation with Rossi’s father in the open paddock and then a post-race meeting with their drivers.
When he finished, Grosjean said that He still felt that Rossi is “an absolute idiot. I am sorry.”
Rossi on Monday declined to provide further details about the situation to The Associated Press. He has made it clear that he does not think Grosjean is a good teammate and will never give Grosjean an inch on the track.
But he is convinced that he still represents Andretti and that his job is still to try to win races.
What did Andretti say after the five-alarm report from Mid-Ohio? He did not respond to a request for comment Monday from the AP.
It’s clear that Grosjean has done himself few favors in his second season in IndyCar. He charmed his way into the series, just months after the 2020 F1 fire in Bahrain, and went from outperforming with Dale Coyne Racing in the middle pack to still seeking his first win in his upgraded Andretti seat. .
Grosjean has been involved in multiple on-track incidents since joining Andretti and rarely accepts any blame. After he and Graham Rahal tangled in April at Barber, Rahal spread the word that most drivers had grown tired of Grosjean’s act.
The next step was nearly a month in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway trailer lot, where Grosjean prepared for his Indy 500 debut and his teammates eagerly participated in the annual banter between the drivers.
It didn’t seem personal when Herta and Rossi were part of a team who looted Grosjean’s garden furniture and relocated his scooter to the top of the Pagoda. and yet Herta seemed a little upset when she discovered that her golf cart had been overturned. and all his oil drained while he was in a press session, there were no clear signs that Rahal might have been including Grosjean’s own teammates in his popularity poll.
On Sunday at Mid-Ohio, race winner Scott McLaughlin made it clear that the entire paddock knew Andretti was a storm waiting to break.
“That’s been building all year,” McLaughlin said of the Andretti-on-Andretti crimes that occurred behind the leaders all day.
In a sense, Mid-Ohio proved that Andretti has all the juicy drama that has helped F1 expand its audience in North America. But the whole display, and the apparent months of internal build-up, have an amateurish aspect that hardly justifies F1 opening its doors to Andretti.
There is a problem within the Andretti operation and every day that it is not fixed only hurts Andretti’s chances of being taken seriously in F1.
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