until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


'So dumb' - Andretti mired in IndyCar team-mate rage again

by Jack Benyon
4 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Erstwhile IndyCar points leader Colton Herta called his new Andretti team-mate Marcus Ericsson “dumb” and an “ass” after contact between the pair in the Indianapolis road course race.

Herta led the IndyCar standings for the first time coming into this race, but was up against it from the get go - starting down in 24th because of running out of fuel in qualifying as a consequence of human error in the team.

Then Ericsson appeared to lose the rear end of his car at Turn 3 on lap one and shoved Herta off the road.

“[Expletive] Marcus, [expletive] piece of [expletive]," was Herta’s team radio response as it was broadcast.

Herta had the chance to play down the incident after the race - but instead doubled down on his annoyance with his new team-mate.

“Your team-mate is leading the championship and you race him like an ass like that?” he said.

“I don’t know what you’re thinking. He probably braked deeper than in qualifying right there and he runs me clean off the track.

“You got to be smarter than that, man. So dumb.”

Asked if he would speak to Ericsson later, Herta added: “I’ll let him know what I feel, yeah.”

Ericsson - who had to drop five places as punishment for the incident and finished 16th - is yet to comment on the contact or Herta's criticism, initially only posted a brief race summary on social media but gave a wider explanation to The Race on Sunday.

"I didn’t realise it was Colton, I was racing," Ericsson said.

"When I figured out it was him trying to go around my outside I tried to brake to get out of it but locked up my front tyre and made contact.

"Of course I never want to make contact with my team-mates, especially one that’s leading the championship. I do think the penalty was harsh since it’s a lap one incident. But I accept it and move on.

"Me and Colton talked afterwards and we’re all good."

Herta's undercut strategy put him back up to a brilliant seventh at the end of the race, limiting the damage as he fell to fourth in the championship, 25 points behind new leader Alex Palou. A stellar duel with Alexander Rossi that kicked off at Turn 7 and lasted for four more corners earned Herta that seventh place on the final restart.

He also avoided disaster when he tried a switchback move at Turns 12 and 13 and so nearly ploughed into the back of Rinus VeeKay's car.

The Race says

You have to hope this doesn’t derail what has looked like a very strong if luckless start to the year for Andretti.

While the results haven’t reflected it, the team appears to have made massive gains through narrowing down to three cars and focusing the best of four crews into three.

Up until now, Ericsson coming onboard was only seen as a positive through having an Indianapolis 500 winner and someone known for strong and consistent race performances - which is what Andretti has lacked at times.

Ericsson is regularly lauded as one of the fairest and cleanest races in the paddock, so you can put this down to an error, albeit a costly one as - like Herta said - it was against his team-mate who was leading the championship.

You can understand why Herta felt the way he did, even if he could have taken the diplomatic high road with some sort of “we’ll discuss it internally” response rather than cutting into his team-mate further.

Andretti has to work quickly to stamp this out.

It has done in the past. Many will remember Mid-Ohio in 2022, where all four Andretti cars hit each other at some point during the race.

The only positive to come from that dark day was Michael Andretti letting heads roll in an immediate team meeting afterwards, and since then Alex Rossi and Romain Grosjean - who had collided on three separate occasions - have even become friends. Andretti's furious dressing down of his team no doubt reminded the drivers and team what was expected of them.

The same might be needed here.

While Ericsson is as nice as they come and has no history of causing any team-mate friction, the team needs to sit down and hammer this one out to avoid it simmering to a boil. It is, after all, hardly the best way to start 'the month of May'.

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