LEEDS, Ala — Romain Grosjean may be the most popular driver in the NTT INDYCAR Series right now. The results of that poll were unveiled this past winter. However, he’s not so popular anymore among his peers.
Grosjean’s aggressive style has grown weary on the current INDYCAR paddock and after some run-ins already this season, it’s starting to leak out further.
Grosjean, had a war or words with Takuma Sato back in February following their practice incident in St. Pete. Now, he’s found a new spat with Sato’s former Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan Racing teammate of Graham Rahal.
Towards the closing laps in Sunday’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, Grosjean was battling Rahal for 7th. With 3 laps left, the two made contact on track.
Grosjean, got into Rahal but luckily for the second generation driver, he didn’t lose control of his No. 15 Dallara-Honda. Rahal, would stay ahead of Grosjean until the final lap for when his fuel was low and he had to tip toe around the 2.3-mile Barber Motorsports Park facility to ensure he doesn’t run out of gas and can still come away with a top 10.
That just further added to the Ohio native’s frustrations as he was already to his boiling point with the second year Frenchman.
“I just think it’s clear when you watch the in-car camera, and look at the angle of his head,” Rahal said to the TV broadcast. “When I can see in the mirror his head is directed this way, and the track is the other way, it’s pretty self-explanatory.”
Rahal, said that he felt like he gave Grosjean plenty of room. He knew he had to. Over the radio, his team told him that Grosjean was planning to dive-bomb him.
“But look where he scraped me, why are you turning into me?” Rahal continued. “Your right front is at my left rear. There’s no excuse for that here. Look, he just releases the car to hit me. And here again. Look at how much room he has.
“I’m just frustrated because this isn’t the first time. At St. Pete, he hit everyone he could hit. We come here, he hit Rossi, hit Herta, hit me. At some point, we have to clean up our act.”
Earlier in the race, Grosjean made a bold move to block his teammate Colton Herta on the front stretch. Grosjean, squeezed Herta low and while Herta had to drive into Turn 1 harder than he wanted it, it pushed his No. 26 Dallara-Honda wide off the track as a result.
“Good racing with [Rossi], Colton, Scotty [McLaughlin],” Rahal told IndyCar Radio too. “Good racing with a lot of drivers Just one particular guy not so clean. We’re gonna have to have a little sit down; a little conversation, about what the hell is going on here.
“I think the drivers need to get together. All of us because I’m not the only one with a problem. It’s quite a significant number of drivers that have had run-ins with this guy. As I said on TV, when the roles are reversed, officiating had better be consistent because it’s gonna be reversed at some stage. I’m not gonna play nice. This guy has overstayed his welcome.”
As to what needs to be done from INDYCAR?
“I’ll let you guys decide,” Rahal said. “You guys know. As another driver in the series told me, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, and he’s had that reputation over his whole career in Europe, and we’re learning his reputation quickly here.
“If race control doesn’t want to do anything, they’re not going to do anything. But when we go and punt him, they better not do anything to me. Which in the past, I’ve been penalized for a lot less than that.”
So what about Grosjean’s side. Was it intentional?
“We touched a couple of times, but it was good racing,” Grosjean said. “It was tough out there. Barber is a very good track but very tough to pass, especially when you’re in a train. If the guy in front of you doesn’t have anyone in front of them, you can try to defend a different line, but they’re all in line, so it was quite tricky. It’s good racing. It’s IndyCar. Wheel to wheel action. We didn’t have the right strategy; the three-stop didn’t work, and we were better than others on tires. On to the next one.”