By David Morgan, Associate Editor
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Sometimes a driver has just had enough.
After Sunday’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, it appears Graham Rahal has had enough of the way Romain Grosjean has been racing him.
On the tight confines of Barber Motorsports Park, it’s only a matter of time before contact is made and Sunday, the contact between Rahal and Grosjean came with four laps left on the board.
As Rahal was battling with Scott McLaughlin for sixth-place, Grosjean, who was running directly behind them, saw his opportunity to make a move and made a dive-bomb on Rahal in Turn 5. The two drivers bounced off each other once and then a second time before settling back in line.
Rahal would eventually have to give the spot up to Grosjean when he ran out of fuel on the last lap, but he was still heated afterwards, as he gestured wildly afterwards to Grosjean’s Andretti Autosport teammate, Alexander Rossi, as they walked back to the paddock.
As he explained what happened, Rahal didn’t hold back, giving a play by play on Grosjean’s intentional swipe at Rahal’s Honda.
“I just think it’s clear. Just watch the in-car camera, and look at the angle of his head,” Rahal said. “When I can see in the mirror that his head is directed this way, when the track is going this way, it’s pretty self-explanatory.
“I gave him room. I was trying this outside move on Scotty (McLaughlin) this whole time, so I knew Romain was going to dive-bomb me because I already had been warned that’s what he was doing. But look where he scraped it, why are you turning into me? 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. Boom, we’re straight. Look at how much room he has.
“I’m just frustrated because this isn’t the first time. At St. Pete, he hit everybody he could hit. We come here, he hit Rossi, hit Herta, hit me. At some point, we have to clean up our act.”
Though the incident did not draw the ire of officials on Sunday, Rahal added his two cents on whether there needs to be intervention from Race Control.
“As another driver in the series told me, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, and that’s kind of been his reputation over his whole career in Europe, and we’re learning his reputation quickly here,” Rahal said.
“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.”
Meanwhile, Grosjean noted that the contact between his car and Rahal was not intentional, but instead just “hard racing.”
“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 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. Sadly, 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.”