August 13, 2022

If anyone knows he was hated in the IndyCar paddock, it’s Paul Tracy.

The 2003 CART champion has found himself at the center of more feuds – often of his own making – during his time in CART, Champ Car and the IndyCar Series than any of his peers. If it wasn’t eliminating a teammate like Dario Franchitti or waging a years-long war with key rival Sebastien Bourdais, the ‘Thrill from West Hill’ was developing his personality as the greatest villain in history. ‘IndyCar while driving to 10th place in all-time winning list.

Paul Tracy in Montreal, 2006 – known for making things happen. Michael Levitt/Motorsport Pictures

After watching Alexander Rossi’s WWE heel turn in Mid-Ohio as part of the Andretti Autosport team, the former king of the open wheel controversy weighed in on the ugly scene where bitter rivals-turned-teammates Rossi and Romain Grosjean faced each other twice before Grosjean hit Andretti’s Colton Herta. off the road and Rossi bumped the wheels with Andretti rookie Devlin DeFrancesco while making an aggressive pass.

“If I put my entertainer or promoter hat on, I think it’s great,” Tracy told RACER on the way to this weekend’s SRX race in Nashville. “I think it’s great for the series. I think it’s great to promote it for the next race, if IndyCar is smart to capitalize on that. I don’t think there will be any repercussions at the moment. future, but it’s definitely something they can use to generate hype for the next races to come.

“I don’t think it’s a secret that Rossi and Romain don’t get along at all. It goes back to before they were teammates. The two are very different personalities. Rossi is very dry, very sarcastic, a bit aloof, one of those types of guys who aren’t super nice…unless you’re in his circle, and as it turns out, Romain has rubbed a lot of people this year . There were a few people who got mad at him because of his driving. He seemed to brush it off like, ‘Too bad; this is how I drive,” so it felt like trouble was brewing.

Romain Grosjean during Mid-Ohio Sports Car. Gavin Baker/Motorsport Pictures

As expected, the 53-year-old Canadian has strong opinions about what happened during the Rossi vs. Grosjean incidents that don’t necessarily align with popular opinions that have been expressed.

“Now I think that first accident with Rossi [having] Romain goes down outside and tries to take a guy around the outside of the Keyhole – you leave yourself in a very vulnerable position to be pushed off the track,” he said. “I think Rossi took the opportunity to run him wide and leave no room for him, so I can’t say it’s all on Rossi, because, if you take the risk on the outside and put yourself in the vulnerable position, you can’t expect anyone to give you much room.

“Now the second when they collided and it knocked the steering wheel out of Rossi’s hands – Rossi had no control over what was going to happen after that and then it all fell apart from there. I don’t know what happened with those guys psyches after that they both lost their minds rossi probably got yelled at on the radio but i think they just lost their minds .

Tracy was first teammate with Andretti in 1995 at Newman/Haas Racing and again in the later stages of their careers in the early 2000s at Team Green. Although Andretti is far from a Roger Penske or a Chip Ganassi to lead his team with an iron fist, Tracy believes the racing team mogul will be able to keep his drivers in check and avoid further implosions in future races.

“Michael is a pretty serious character when he has team meetings,” Tracy said. “If I was a young driver driving for him, he’d definitely be someone I wouldn’t look at and say, ‘Yeah, whatever, man. I think he would command some kind of respect from the riders, but, you know, tempers have gotten out of control, so he has to stay on top, which I think he can. If he doesn’t, it could get really ugly, real quick.

As Rossi headed to Arrow McLaren SP after the next eight races, Tracy wonders if the tense post-Ohio midfield situation between Rossi and Grosjean will also coincide with Team Andretti taking a different approach to how the two final months of his time with the outfit will be managed.

“The dynamic is a very strange situation there now at Andretti, because you have Rossi – who always wants to win and the guys in his crew always want to win – but the team knows going forward that they have to protect their technology because it’s leaving,” he said. “So they’re not going to tell him everything about the car; they’re not going to share all the information with him because he’s going somewhere else.

“He is leaving now, not only for another team, but also for another engine manufacturer, so you have [also got] the dynamics of his understanding of what Honda is doing in the future. All of this will be protected from Alex. I have been in this situation before. When you’re in this situation, you just want to win races. I imagine you’re going to start thinking to yourself, “I’m not getting everything other people are getting because they’re denying it to me because I signed elsewhere”, so you run the risk of seeing him driving out of anger or frustration that could start right now.

The loss of Andretti’s two oldest veterans in back-to-back seasons with the semi-retirement of Marco Andretti and the decision to dump Ryan Hunter-Reay in favor of Grosjean took two of the strongest intra-squad leaders and voices from the team. offside. In their absence, a vacuum was created where, coincidentally, the team was largely ineffective and rudderless on numerous occasions.

Alexander Rossi during Mid-Ohio Sports Car. Gavin Baker/Motorsport Pictures

Displaced by Arrow McLaren SP in IndyCar’s “Big Three” teams, Andretti Autosport finds itself in need of rebuilding a team mentality among its drivers in the same way that Penske, Ganassi and AMSP have used it with a si great effect. Whether it’s the current roster or the next evolution when Rossi is replaced by Kyle Kirkwood, things would definitely be improved if one of the drivers stood up to hold themselves accountable and root out the self mentality of first which broke free and tore. by the Mid-Ohio team.

“RHR was [that] kind of guy for them and I think Marco was an influence on that as well,” Tracy said. “But the lack of [a] good reliable guy who everyone gets along with in the team is not there at the moment. Devlin – he’s a rookie; he’s still trying to figure it all out, so it’s not [the role for him to be in] and he’s had his own issues trying to get past a lot of people who are mad at him because he’s had incidents.

“Colton seems to get along with just about everyone, but he’s another guy who’s a bit dry and a bit quiet, so that’s not really his personality, I don’t think. is that the two big personalities in the team are Romain and Alex, so I don’t see a real solution to the problem until Rossi is gone, but who becomes this guy? It could end up on Michael’s shoulders unless Romain or Colton decides they want to be the big dog on the team.