Former F1 and now IndyCar driver Alexander Rossi has called current Formula 1 drivers’ excuse for not racing on ovals a “cop-out”, with the American highlighting that no cars “split in half” during the Indy 500.
Rossi drove for the now folded Manor-Marussia for five races in 2015, before leaving the team to venture back to the USA to join Andretti Autosport in IndyCar.
The American has enjoyed great success in the series, having won eight races in the seven years he’s been there.
His biggest victory was his very first, where he claimed the 2016 Indianapolis 500, something which forms part of the triple-crown.
The metaphorical triple-crown involves winning the Le Mans 24 Hours, the Indy 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix.
Fernando Alonso has long expressed his desire to win the unofficial motorsport achievement, which has only ever been awarded to Graham Hill.
Alonso has won both the Monaco GP and the Le Mans 24 Hours, with the Spaniard having attempted the Indy 500 three times, without success.
Apart from the double World Champion, no other current F1 drivers appear to be interested in competing in the Indy 500, with Max Verstappen admitting it’s too big an injury risk to take part.
Rossi has labelled this excuse of the Indy 500 being an injury risk as a “cop-out”, with the American using the example of Mick Schumacher’s crash at the Monaco GP as a prime example.
In the 2022 Indy 500 four drivers crashed out; however, none of the cars split in half.
At both the Monaco GP and the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Schumacher crashed so heavily that his car split in half.
Rossi understands that IndyCar may be “more dangerous”, but thinks the Monaco GP is just as dangerous, if not more so than the Indy 500.
“In a sense, it’s more dangerous maybe, but we had four crashes and we didn’t have any cars splitting in half,” he said to Sky Sports after the race in May.
“You can’t say that about the Monaco Grand Prix, right? I think the safety argument is kind of a cop-out.”
Having spent the majority of his junior racing days in FIA single-seater championships, he understands why current F1 drivers are against the switch.
Rossi revealed that he used to be the same, with F1 drivers almost being oblivious that other racing series “exist”.
“I was that guy as well,” Rossi admitted.
“I think, when you are on a trajectory for Formula 1 and your entire world revolves around F1, it’s a sad state in the sense that other racing really doesn’t exist to you.
“It’s such a single-track focus you have in order to get there. I was the same way – I knew what the Indy 500 was but I didn’t ever really pay attention to it.
“But then, when you come and you have the opportunity to do it, it truly is an incredibly special event. Not only in motorsports but just globally, like it’s the largest single-day sporting event on Earth, right? So to have the opportunity to compete in that…”
Rossi is hoping that F1 drivers may feel more comfortable driving in IndyCar with so many ex-F1 drivers beginning to make the switch, most recently Romain Grosjean.
Rossi thinks the Frenchman is a great person to explain the differences in safety between the two categories, with the former Haas F1 Team driver having loved racing on ovals since deciding to do so.
“I think Romain is someone that’s really good to talk to about it,” he said.
“Obviously, he had his incredibly dramatic and scary incident in Bahrain a couple of years ago. He thought long and hard about what he was going to do with his future and he shared that his passion for motorsports and racing has been renewed with a new car and he feels completely safe in the cars.
“It’s all relative, I think, at the end of the day, so those answers don’t surprise me, but that doesn’t mean I agree with them.”