Bad Indy 500 pitstop prompted rookie Rossi's winning strategy

The fuel-saving strategy that took Alexander Rossi to Indianapolis 500 victory was a reaction to a bad pitstop that had dropped him down the field, the rookie winner has revealed

Bad Indy 500 pitstop prompted rookie Rossi's winning strategy

Andretti-BHA driver Rossi spent the first quarter of the race on the fringe of the top 10, but fell to 28th when the fuel hose would not engage properly at a stop under yellow just before half-distance.

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That prompted the team to switch to a fuel mileage gamble and take him out of sequence with the rest of the field, bringing him back in later in the caution period to top up on lap 100 of the 200.

He set the fastest lap soon afterwards, before prioritising fuel conservation.

"The leaders were never out of touch, and we knew that our pace was the same if not a little bit better," Rossi said.

"But when we had a bad yellow-flag pitstop that dropped us from eighth to 28th or something silly like that.

"It forced our hand because it's one thing to overtake six or seven cars, but to overtake 27 cars is going to be pretty tricky."

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Staying out as others stopped under yellows for later incidents brought him back into the lead pack, and he made further stops of his own on laps 138 (under green) and 164 (under yellow).

Rossi took the final restart on lap 167 in ninth place, then progressed to seventh before steadily gaining the remaining positions as everyone ahead pitted over the last 16 laps.

He underlined that the strategy had been committed to straight after the pit delay rather than being a late gamble.

"A lot of people when they hear I was running out of fuel, they think it was something that I had to adjust for on the last like two or three laps, but this was a decision that was made 90 laps prior," Rossi said.

"I was in fuel conserve mode from that point, all the while trying to maintain and advance my position. It was a pretty tricky end to the race."

Rossi said saving fuel in IndyCar was very different to what he had done in Formula 1 with Manor last year, and that he stumbled on the best driving style for conservation by accident.

"It's very, very rare that an F1 race will turn into a fuel race, and almost everything you'll do is just engine settings to conserve fuel," he said.

"I was experimenting out there, and it was actually a little bit of a fluke that I figured out how to save the most.

"I had a big moment in Turn 2 and I had to bail out of the throttle quite a bit behind Scott Dixon, and then I came across the line and I was still quite close behind Scott, and the fuel number was above what I needed."

Rossi won $2,548,743 in prize money for his victory and being the top rookie.

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