Alexander Rossi doesn’t mind controversy after Robert Wickens incident

Alexander Rossi lost control of his car and took out Robert Wickens on the final restart of the IndyCar season opener in St. Petersburg two weeks ago, sparking an ongoing debate about the move.

The two friends moved on quickly — they were at the gym working out together 48 hours later, Rossi said.

But even then, the controversy over Rossi’s attempted pass was still raging online. And as Rossi sees it, that’s a pretty damn good thing.

“I think the reaction was great,” Rossi said by phone this week. “I mean, people were talking about the race a week after the fact. When has that happened before? That’s amazing.”

There hasn’t been a race since then, and it will be two more weeks until the series returns to action at Phoenix. But if IndyCar can manage to keep its positive momentum going for that long, the series appears to be off to another promising start.

IndyCar has been on an upward climb of late. In the last year, Fernando Alonso left the biggest Formula One race of the season to drive in the Indy 500, IndyCar got a refreshing young American champion in Josef Newgarden after a close points battle, the series brought a redesigned car to the track, had two drivers shine on The Amazing Race during the offseason and this week announced a new TV deal with NBC Sports.

If that’s not enough, Rossi’s incident with Wickens — one of several promising rookies as part of IndyCar’s youth movement — put the focus firmly on the racing action to start the year.

With nearly two weeks to reflect on what happened, Rossi has the same stance he did in the moments after the race: He saw a chance to win the race and went for it. Unfortunately, his car slid in the marbles and sent Wickens into the wall.

“Rob’s a good friend of mine, so I would have loved to be on the podium with him, no doubt,” Rossi said. “But looking back on it, from my side I wouldn’t have done anything differently.”

Rossi called it a “misconception” he had any intention of taking Wickens out.

“I don’t think people really understand,” he said. “It’s probably silly to admit this, but we don’t have as much control as fans would actually think. Like I can’t control a rear slide to be 30 degrees and just hit someone at a certain point to not damage my car but hit them enough to spin them out. That’s not a calculated thing to happen.

“It wasn’t an idea I had, like, ‘Oh, I’m not going to be able to pass him, so I’m going to hit him out of the way.’ Like that’s not a thing. It was simply a situation where we were both going for the same piece of real estate.”

The good news in circumstances like that? There’s a chance to see the same two drivers battle again in a similar scenario. The next street course race is in three weeks at the Long Beach Grand Prix, which Rossi was promoting in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

Of course Rob has every right to be upset. If I was in his position, I would have been upset, too,” Rossi said. “You move on, right? We’re here to win races and championships. At the end of the day, there will be 16 more chances to fight it out.”

That other Amazing Race

Speaking of an amazing race, Rossi’s deep run on the CBS hit reality show with Conor Daly (they made it to the season finale before getting eliminated) is something he doesn’t mind discussing.

After all, he went on the show to help promote IndyCar. And he hopes it worked.

So far, he hasn’t been recognized as a direct result of the show (a woman who spotted him at the Toronto airport was the only one he could think of). But winners Cody Nickson and Jessica Graf were at the recent IndyCar test in Phoenix and plan to come to the Indy 500, along with Team Extreme’s Kristi Leskinen and Jen Hudak.

“(The producers) like it to be known as a true reality show, and I can tell you that is accurate,” Rossi said. “There were zero second takes. There was no ‘Act like this’ or ‘Have this emotion.’ Everything you saw was something that really happened.”

5 Replies to “Alexander Rossi doesn’t mind controversy after Robert Wickens incident”

  1. I love Rossi. Been a fan since he won the Indy 500 but he officially became my driver last year when sadly my driver went home to Russia. What IndyCar needs. ore than anything though is for the owners to pull their heads out of their asses and realize Sage Karam. is raw untapped talent. He would be a winner in the right car with the right team.

    1. There’s an absolute legit reason Karam has no ride. It’s his own fault.

      That crap at the IMSA race at VIR last year said it all about Karam. That kind of garbage doesn’t belong in any kind of race, nevermind an open wheel car. He already killed someone by accident (kind of, his team warned him. about that line at Pocono and he didn’t listen) but him back in an. IndyCar puts other drivers at risk because he’s a dumb and dangerous driver. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you have the brain of a rock it doesn’t matter. Michael Shank(an IndyCar owner) went on live TV and aired to the entire audience that that kind of driving and behavior is exactly why no indycar owners want anything to do with him.

      might also be mentioned he got outperformed in the same car by ex-indycar driver Jack Hawksworth and was fired out of his IMSA ride by noted asshole Paul Gentilozzi because of his bad performance and bad on and off track behavior.

  2. Please more IndyCar coverage. Your reach will help it grow even more than you referenced.

  3. Can’t help but notice no Martinsville coverage the last couple days. Postponed until Monday when there’s no precipitation and sunny skies on Sunday is the biggest farce I have seen in years. Total joke.

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