INDIANAPOLIS — Some may say that the NTT INDYCAR Series has missed out on a Netflix DTS style of show that Formula One currently has. Others say that the ship may not have sailed just yet. No matter the side that you fall on, there’s no reason to doubt that a behind the scenes show for this season would be a wild one right now.
The last race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is a prime example. All 4 Andretti Autosport cars ran into one another at some point during the race. You had Romain Grosjean vs. Alexander Rossi then Grosjean vs. Colton Herta and Rossi vs. Devlin DeFrancesco. It’s caused a huge rift within the team to where Grosjean called Rossi an “idiot” even after a closed door meeting took place.
This alone would garner a lot of attention.
You also had the Grosjean vs. Graham Rahal rift from Barber back in early May too. On top of that, the Pato O’Ward vs. his own team at Arrow McLaren SP would have drawn some eyes this spring. O’Ward felt like he was spurned for being passed over for an F1 testing program with McLaren F1. He wasn’t shy about his feelings and it as a result, affected his on track results.
That would have been good TV entertainment. O’Ward has since gotten over it and even signed a new contract with the team that has them “married” through the end of the 2025 season.
Still, a new rift is taking shape. Intra team fighting. AMSP isn’t shy that they’re coming for the top. They don’t care who they piss off on the way. They’re gunning to be the best in the series and want the best drivers in the sport.
It’s why they locked in Lando Norris in F1 and O’Ward in INDYCAR. It’s why Felix Rosenqvist is likely the anchor to their new Formula E program. It’s also why they signed Alexander Rossi for INDYCAR too.
However, that 3rd INDYCAR seat is to what’s drawing some hurt feelings within the INDYCAR paddock too and I mean among the top brass among these respective teams.
Daniel Ricciardo isn’t delivering in that 2nd F1 seat with the team. They’re struggling to find a veteran for their FE program. All signs point to Rosenqvist going there because of that. They need someone with FE success and Rosenqvist does. So, what they do with their 2nd F1 seat and 3rd INDYCAR seat is certainly correlating to one another and could ruffle feathers.
A RACER report stated that Zak Brown and Chip Ganassi aren’t going to be sharing many meals or exchanging any Christmas Cards any time soon. Rumors surfaced of AMSP courting both Ganassi drivers of Alex Palou and Scott Dixon for 1 of their INDYCAR openings. While both are under contract, some within the paddock say that it didn’t stop AMSP from still talking to each and offering to buy their contracts out and for the case of Dixon, an ownership stake.
One could say that AMSP had O’Ward as their top driver for INDYCAR and a list that had Dixon, Palou and Rossi on top below to drive their 2nd and 3rd cars.
Both drivers have since downplayed those talks and Ganassi even expects his lineup to remain status quo for 2023, but if the rumors are true that AMSP even approached both drivers or their teams around them, I can see where it would ruffle some feathers.
I also expect some not so friendly conversations between Zak Brown and Michael Andretti if Andretti can’t secure an F1 team and Brown takes Colton Herta as a result of that. Word is that Andretti has met a lot of resistance from current F1 teams and that the prospects of Andretti being able to jump over to F1 too is looking slimmer by the day.
With Herta being a test driver this year for McLaren F1 and even testing on Monday for them, if that goes well and Ricciardo isn’t retained, could Herta be in the mix to replace Ricciardo as soon as next year or even the year after?
How would Andretti feel if his friend took his best 2 drivers in a couple months span? We know Rossi is gone at seasons end and what happens if Herta is also gone at seasons end or even at the end of next year?
Andretti could very realistically have just DeFrancesco and Kyle Kirkwood in house for 2024 and be racing against former Indy Lights driver for them in Pato O’Ward as well as former driver Rossi in INDYCAR and watch at home while his own star Herta is driving for that same McLaren brand in F1.
Think about that. In 2018, O’Ward and Herta were teammates at Andretti in Indy Lights. A different path led O’Ward to AMSP. Herta could very well end up there next. Rossi we know is landing there. I mean Oliver Askew won the 2019 Indy Lights title for Andretti and was signed for AMSP for the 2020 season.
Andretti isn’t a ladder system to AMSP. At some point he had to get tired of Brown taking his drivers. That’s Ganassi’s beef with Brown.
Chaos sells. Drama sells. There’s plenty of it in INDYCAR right now and a lot of it surrounds the big teams. That’s a further selling point.