Rossi has a “different perspective now” on Texas shunt

Alexander Rossi has revised his opinion on the wreck that eliminated him from last Saturday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway and says Scott Dixon had “every right” to be alongside him, when contact was made.

Rossi has a “different perspective now” on Texas shunt
Alexander Rossi, Herta - Andretti Autosport Honda
Alexander Rossi, Herta - Andretti Autosport Honda crash
Alexander Rossi, Herta - Andretti Autosport Honda
Alexander Rossi, Herta - Andretti Autosport Honda crash
Alexander Rossi, Herta - Andretti Autosport Honda
Alexander Rossi, Herta - Andretti Autosport Honda
Alexander Rossi, Herta - Andretti Autosport Honda
Alexander Rossi, Herta - Andretti Autosport Honda pit stop
Alexander Rossi, Herta - Andretti Autosport Honda
Alexander Rossi, Herta - Andretti Autosport Honda
Alexander Rossi, Herta - Andretti Autosport Honda
Alexander Rossi, Herta - Andretti Autosport Honda
Alexander Rossi, Herta - Andretti Autosport Honda, Takuma Sato, Andretti Autosport Honda, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport Honda
Fernando Alonso, McLaren-Honda-Andretti Honda Alexander Rossi, Herta - Andretti Autosport Honda
Alexander Rossi, Herta - Andretti Autosport Honda
Alexander Rossi, Herta - Andretti Autosport Honda
Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, Ed Carpenter, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, Alexander Rossi, Herta - Andretti Autosport Honda
Alexander Rossi, Herta - Andretti Autosport Honda
Alexander Rossi, Herta - Andretti Autosport Honda, Fernando Alonso, McLaren-Honda-Andretti Honda, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport Honda
Alexander Rossi, Herta - Andretti Autosport Honda
Alexander Rossi, Herta - Andretti Autosport Honda
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Immediately after being released from the track’s medical center following his shunt, the 2016 Indy 500 winner suggested Dixon made a late move on him into Turn 3. However, the Andretti Autosport-Honda driver has now watched the replays and admitted his initial assessment was wrong.

“After the incident I did try to be careful with what I said,” Rossi told Motorsport.com, “because in the car you have a different perspective – sometimes different from reality!

“I was passing Tony who’d had a pretty bad run through Turns 1 and 2, so I went to the inside of him, and Scott came to the inside of me. At the time I thought it was pretty late because at the time I was focusing on Tony, but in the video I saw it wasn’t late at all and Scott had every right to be there.

“When I turned in, I immediately had to mark the line I took based on what Scott was doing and I wasn’t really paying attention to what Tony was doing because at that point of the race there were barely two lanes as we all talked about beforehand. With him being up high, I was expecting him to bail out, because he surely wasn’t going to want to be trying to make a third lane.

“So I was placing my car according to what Scott’s right-front wheel was doing, and the next thing I know, is Tony’s there on top of me, he made contact with my right front, which then put me into Scott which obviously then turned me around.

“Looking back, should we have been three-wide 30 laps in? No. Was it my intention to be three-wide? No. But the car that didn’t have a lane, should it have been going three-wide? No, probably not.

“Having said that, I have no interest in pointing fingers. With the way the track was at that part of the race, there was one-and-three-quarters lanes, and you had three cars going for that same piece of real estate. I couldn’t give Scott any more room, Scott was already down on the white line himself. Tony could have given me more room potentially, but then he would have lost a massive amount of track position if he’d backed off because there were a lot of cars behind us.

“Having said that, in hindsight and in my circumstance, I honestly don’t know what I would have done differently. I had to pull alongside Tony when I got the run on him, but then I wasn’t expecting Scott to get a run on the pair of us. It was just a little bit unfortunate.”

Rossi defends driver behavior

In light of the fact that many but not all of his rivals described the action at Texas Motor Speedway this year as pack racing, Rossi admitted that had he still been in F1, he would not have watched the race envying the IndyCar drivers. But he admits that he wasn’t disturbed by the racing once he was in it.

“As you asked it, if I was an F1 driver, would I be interested in being part of that race? No I wouldn’t. But once I was involved in it, I didn’t have a huge problem with it.

“The first 12 laps or so, I was trying to find my feet a bit because it was super-new to me to be that close at those types of speed. The only pack-ish race I had done was at Iowa and that’s at a much lower speed. But after that, 15-20 laps in, I was OK with it.”

However, Rossi said that the difference between the track conditions at 5.45-6.15pm in Friday practice and how it was for a race that didn’t start until 7.45pm on Saturday is what led to the wild driving and errors that meant 66 of the 248 laps were run under caution.

“The bit that upset me, honestly, was that track completely changed 180 degrees as soon as the sun set,” said Rossi. “A lot of what we saw was drivers discovering things in the middle of the race, because we hadn’t had a chance to drive it at night.

“A lot of this could have been avoided if drivers had gone into the race expecting it to be what it was, but there was no understanding of what that race was going to be. There were guys saying it was going to be a pack race, there were guys saying it was going to be like Phoenix where it was pretty much single-file, there were guys saying, ‘I don’t know what the hell it is but I don’t wanna do it.’

“There were so many unknowns. I mean sure, Tony had his issues and there were other drivers being complained about, but I don’t think anyone was doing anything intentionally stupid. I just think that people were caught off-guard because from all the time we’d spent on track on Friday, it had not amounted to something like that.

“If you put drivers into a points-paying environment but also an environment that they’re not familiar with that weekend, then I don’t care how much experience they have, they’re going to be finding their feet. Like I said, nothing was flagrant or done maliciously. They’re making mistakes from trial and error, trying things they hadn’t had a chance to do before. So that stacks people up.”

Happy with progress from himself and team

Although he was eliminated as early as Lap 38, Rossi said he was pleased with his pace over the weekend in which he qualified third.

“Andretti Autosport had a very challenging test at Texas in April,” he said, “on the #98 side in particular – more than our teammates. I was very uncomfortable with the car and unhappy when we left the test.

“So we spent a lot of time on it trying to do our homework on what was causing that, and I think that’s why we ended up starting near the front. Our four cars weren’t that much different but because I was going in with so much anxiety based on the test, I guess I was very hypercritical and hypersensitive to the car in the areas where it was weak. And we were able to make a couple of changes to get my comfort level to where it needed to be before qualifying.

“Actually in qualifying we were pretty conservative. More aggressive than our teammates, but initially Jeremy [Milless, race engineer] and I wanted to go to the setup that Ganassi qualified on, but it was going to be so much lower downforce than everyone else in the team, we stayed away from that. But the team did an amazing job helping me to get my confidence back.”

Rossi said that although Andretti Autosport has struggled for strong results this year, aside from Takuma Sato’s victory in the Indianapolis 500, he said no comparison should be drawn with last year, when the team collectively looked woefully off the pace at certain tracks.

“Apart from Indy again, Andretti Autosport has had a pretty abysmal year so far in terms of actual end results,” said Rossi, “but it’s not like last year where we were struggling for performance a lot of the time. I’ve been seriously impressed with the team’s improvement in the offseason. “It’s just that even on the tracks where we’ve been strong, we’ve not been able to finish strong. But I like the fact that we’re qualifying towards the top right now and we’ve just got to keep working on it.”

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