Sebastien Bourdais notched his third consecutive podium finish on a street course, claiming third place at the end of a bizarre Grand Prix of Baltimore after tangling with eventual race winner Simon Pagenaud in the final laps.
With seven laps to go, Pagenaud took the lead from Marco Andretti coming out of Turn 1 and soon Bourdais followed his fellow Frenchman past Andretti as well for second. Then at Turn 7, Pagenaud went wide, opening the door for Bourdais to make the pass.
But the two wound up making contact going into Turn 8, which sent Bourdais heading for the tire barriers. The four-time Champ Car World Series champion narrowly saved his car, but his bid for victory at the Inner Harbor was done after that incident.
“I’ll let people judge it,” Bourdais told NBCSN. “I have my own opinion. We’re friends, but there are no friends on the race track, and I learned that the hard way today.”
Like many competitors, Bourdais had it rough at times on the two-mile street circuit this afternoon. Starting all the way from 22nd, he quickly moved into the Top 15 before pitting early under yellow at Lap 13.
That would lead to him inheriting the point at Lap 32 after the front-runners made their first stops of the day. Bourdais gave up the lead to pit again at Lap 40, but got it back again under yellow at Lap 41 when the leaders at the time came in for service.
Bourdais would keep the lead through caution-causing incidents at Laps 48 and 53, but was spun out by Oriol Servia on a restart at Lap 57. The spin led to a track blockage at Turn 1, and Bourdais dropped back to fifth for a restart with 15 laps left.
Three laps later, Bourdais made light contact with fourth-place finisher Justin Wilson at Turn 3, and sent him around to create yet another blockage at the right-hand hairpin.
However, he managed to escape a penalty – much to the chagrin of Wilson, who argued with Bourdais after the race and later told NBCSN that he should have been called for avoidable contact.
“That bit of front wing from Bourdais spun me around completely,” said Wilson. “What else can you say? It wasn’t because there was a car on the inside of me. He just tried to come off the brake pedal too early and hit me.”
Bourdais contended that he was paying attention to an oncoming James Hinchcliffe on the inside, and when his attention came back to Wilson, it was already too late to prevent the contact.
“By the time I put my eyes back on Justin’s car, I just barely touched him and it broke the tip of the front wing,” he said.
“I feel bad for him, but I got turned around today as well, so I think everybody got their share of incidents and running into and getting run into by people.”