LONG BEACH, California — Helio Castroneves was angry with Alexander Rossi after a collision in the IndyCar morning warmup that left his No. 06 Dallara-Honda damaged three hours before the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Castroneves was unable to return after making just four laps before running into Rossi near the fountain on the 11-turn, 1.968-mile street course.
“He’s the one that has the mirror,” a seething Castroneves told NBC Sports reporter Kevin Lee during the broadcast on Peacock Premium (in a short but emotional interview that was as memorable as his 2020 Rolex 24 outburst). “He should take a look at what’s going on. It’s totally unnecessary. Totally unnecessary. It absolutely stinks. I’m pissed off about it. Anyway. I’ll calm down and move on to the race, but his turn will come.
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“It’s ridiculous. It’s an (expletive) warmup. It’s ridiculous. It’s absolutely insane.”
The contact occurred when Castroneves was on a flying lap about seven minutes into the warmup. Rossi just had exited the pits and nearly lost control of his No. 27 Dallara-Honda after being hit in the left rear by Castroneves, who had right front damage.
Contact in warm-up?
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“Kind of since Portland, things have been brewing,” Rossi told NBC Sports reporter Marty Snider. “Not brewing, but he likes to jump in line when we’re all trying to get gaps and everything. It happened yesterday. It happened in Portland.
“We’re teammates (as Honda drivers). We haven’t really talked about it. Now is a good time to talk about it. But the fact that he thinks any of it is my fault is hilarious. I guess when you’re a four-time Indy 500 champion, you can have your opinion. He’s entitled to it. But he’s wrong.”
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Rossi was able to continue the warmup and posted the fifth-quickest time over his 18 laps.
Castroneves will return to a full-time IndyCar ride next season with Meyer Shank Racing after winning this year’s Indy 500 with the team.
The four-time Indianapolis 500 winner and Rossi, the 2016 Indy 500 winner who drives for Andretti Autosport, won this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona together as Acura teammates for Wayne Taylor Racing.
The Andretti and MSR teams also have a technical alliance in which their drivers are in debriefs together, but Rossi said the relationship had been strained.
“He is and isn’t,” Rossi said when asked by Snider how he handles Castroneves as a corporate teammate. “Quite honestly, the Shank car didn’t help (Andretti winner) Colton (Herta) last week at Laguna so I don’t know how much of teammates we really are being right now.”
It was the second consecutive day that Castroneves had a dispute with an IndyCar driver. During the Fast Six qualifying session Saturday, Scott Dixon said Castroneves had impeded his progress during a lap that could have put him on pole position.
Herta turned the fastest lap in the warmup for the 85-lap race (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN).