Alexander Rossi and Graham Rahal showed no bitterness following a collision that took both drivers out of contention of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
The contact occurred on Lap 37 following Rossi’s first green flag stop. He was under fire from Rahal, who stopped two laps earlier and had his tires up to full temperature.
Rahal attempted to pass the Andretti Autosport driver in Turn 4 only to puncture his right front tire as Rossi made the turn.
That caused Rossi’s No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda to slide into Rahal and put both drivers in the tire barrier. Rahal carried on while Rossi struggled to get going and lost two laps in the process of staggering back to pit lane.
Rahal writhed on to finish on the lead lap in 15th as Rossi fell down the order to 21st.
Rossi softened the tone in a post-race interview and called a racing incident.
“I was out of the pits on cold tires, felt like I gave him room, one of those racing things,” said Rossi. “Unfortunate with the flat tire.
“I wasn’t trying to drive him out, but it came from the contact, so one of those things.
“Graham and I have a great relationship, and I don’t think it was intentional. Just unfortunate. I think we had a shot at the top five with this car. It wasn’t meant to be again.”
Rahal noted that he thought he could cleanly complete the pass, and brushed it off as well.
“I had a slow pitstop and I think he did too,” he said. “He blocked into Turn 4, and you’ve got to make the move and we hit wheel to wheel.
“It’s a shame with the flat right front because we could’ve got through perfectly fine and go with our days. It is what it is, but it’s frustrating for us. Our car was fast and people saw that in the first stint. We were able to move forward, but just a missed opportunity.”