Ericsson: “Nothing wrong with that move” in Palou clash at Road America

IndyCar points leader Marcus Ericsson stood his ground after the incident with team-mate Alex Palou that saw the defending champion break his suspension in their clash.

Ericsson: “Nothing wrong with that move” in Palou clash at Road America

After Palou and Ericsson qualified third and fourth respectively – Ericsson’s best grid position of the year – the pair had retained those positions from the start.

Following the long run down to Turn 5 on lap 4, Palou appeared to brake slightly early in response to being so close behind the second-placed car of Josef Newgarden, while also choosing to take the fastest racing line to the 90-degree left-hander. That left the inside line open to Ericsson who braked later, and filled the gap.

Ericsson ran only slightly deeper on exit than leader Alexander Rossi and Newgarden, but Palou turned in toward the apex and his left-front wheel made contact with his team-mate’s right rear, and so he broke a toelink.

Possibly without the benefit of seeing a replay, Palou made some uncharacteristically salty comments following his mandatory trip to the IndyCar medical centre, including, “I just think he was trying to win the race on the third [sic] lap, and the car broke and that’s it, game over.”

Ericsson saw no case to answer immediately after the race and remained unrepentant in the post-race press conference, despite throwing some sympathy Palou’s way.

“From inside the car, the door was open there,” he said. “I went for the move alongside him at the apex, made the corner. From my side, he turns into me from the outside lane.

“You hate to see your team-mate retire from a contact with you: that's the last thing you want to do. [But] I don't see I did anything wrong. It was a fully race move. Might have been early in the race, but this is a track-position race. If you get an opportunity, you need to go for it.

“As I said, there was nothing wrong with that move. That was clear on the TV pictures.”

Marcus Ericsson, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Marcus Ericsson, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

Ericsson later added: “ I was alongside him at the apex. I was surprised that we hit at the middle of the corner. Like I said, I made the corner, didn't go up on the curb. It was not like I was oversteering or anything like that. I was surprised to get the hit there.

“I don't know what more to say. I only saw it once on the TV. It looked like a good move to me. Again, I hate to see my team-mate retire from a contact with my car, but I don't feel that was on me. I feel like it was more on his side there.”

Ericsson eventually snatched second place from Rossi on the final restart, and given the poor results for Power (19th), O’Ward (26th) and Palou (27th), the former Formula 1 driver now holds a 27-point lead in the standings, with eight races down and nine to go.

“It's going to be tough all the way,” he said. “It's so competitive in the series at the moment. Any given weekend can be a new winner. It's hard to be even in the top 10 if you don't get everything right.

“I think it's going to be a tough season, a long season. We put ourselves in a really good position now, leading. So we just got to keep doing what we've been doing. The last 12 months we were the top scorer in the championship. I think that says something about where we've been performing since Detroit last year – it was actually 12 months ago today.

“Yeah, I think we're in a strong position, but it's going to require a lot of hard work, keep doing what we've been doing. Will and Pato and Alex, I think all three of them had bad days. That's good for us, since they were the closest ones in the championship going in. But it's going to swing a couple more times. It's a matter of being consistent now, bringing home the results.”

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Palou “surprised” to be hit by Ganassi IndyCar team-mate Ericsson
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