Wickens: Backmarker, blue-flag situation was “comical”
Robert Wickens said he was frustrated by the “comical” situation he found in the final stint at Mid-Ohio when he got caught behind lapped cars as he tried to chase down leader Alexander Rossi.
Wickens finished runner-up, highest of the cars that committed to a three-stop pit strategy, but finished 12 seconds adrift of Rossi at the checkered flag.
But the Canadian rookie said he felt that he would have been able to catch his frequent nemesis this year had he not gotten held up for so long behind backmarkers, and that the pressure he applied would have forced Rossi to use too much fuel to make it to the end on two stops.
“I think I would have been able to challenge him if I had a clear third stint,” he said. “I think we lost a good 10 or so seconds. As a driver, when you have 20 odd seconds at hand, it's probably easy to hit a fuel number. I think [if I’d been] closing in, he would not have made it, right?
“We knew going in the three stops, two stops was basically the same, but the risk was higher with three stops. I got stuck behind [Takuma] Sato on new reds [alternate-compound tires]. He was quick enough I couldn't do anything. I had to wait for him to get a bit of deg.”
Asked if he felt Race Control needs to be more vigilant about getting drivers to observe blue flags when they’re being lapped, Wickens replied, “Yes [but] the rules are the rules. They're not going to change this season, right? What they have is what we have to deal with throughout the whole year.
“I just thought it was comical for my entire third stint, marshals were waving blue flags every lap I went through. I felt bad for the marshals, waving flags for no reason. Just don't do it. It's weird…
"There were blue flags every time for T.K. [Tony Kanaan] and Sato. They were fighting for position. It’s just how the flag rules are here in IndyCar. It ruined my race…
"I mean, it was just frustrating. The track is pretty hard to overtake on. I would have had to blow 100 seconds of overtake [push-to-pass boost] to try to pull off a move, and I wasn't ready to do that.
“I think T.K. put Sato in the grass in Turn 3 once. I was waiting in a podium spot to see what they were going to do. Obviously I wasn't interested in going three-wide with them when they're pushing each other in the grass and stuff!
"I saw a win slipping away, but... It was risk-versus-reward. I waited for a mistake from Sato, capitalized on that, was able to get by T.K. in one lap.”
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