Rossi says Verstappen’s Indy 500 snub is a ‘cop-out’

The start of the 2022 Indianapolis 500. Indy 500 Indiana, May 2022.

The start of the 2022 Indianapolis 500. Indiana, May 2022.

IndyCar racer and former F1 driver Alexander Rossi believes Max Verstappen’s safety argument about the Indy 500 is a “cop-out”.

Rossi reckons the argument presented by Verstappen for not targeting an attempt at motorsport’s Triple Crown is not a strong one.

Verstappen, as a Monaco Grand Prix winner, has ticked off one of the three events that make up the unofficial Triple Crown, with IndyCar’s Indy 500 and the World Endurance Championship’s Le Mans 24 Hours making up the other two events.

Verstappen透露在摩纳哥end he has no interest in taking part in the Indy 500, saying he did not feel like “risking his life” or picking up an injury to his legs by racing in the prestigious annual oval battle.

His comments were mirrored by those of Red Bull team-mateSergio Perezand Ferrari’sCarlos Sainz, both of whom also ruled out any interest in taking part in the race once their F1 careers have come to a close.

Rossi, a former F1 driver who turned to IndyCar after losing his seat when the Manor team collapsed in 2016, said the perspective of the F1 drivers is understandable.

“I was that guy as well,” he said on Sky F1’s Any Driven Monday programme.

“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…”

As for Verstappen’s comments regarding the danger aspect of racing at high-speed ovals, Rossi pointed out the hefty crashes in the 2022 Indy 500 had not resulted in the same level of damageMick Schumachersustained in his Monaco race-ending crash in the Haas.

“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.

“You can’t say that about the Monaco Grand Prix, right? I think the safety argument is kind of a cop-out.”

Rossi pointed to the example of Romain Grosjean, who switched to IndyCar when his F1 career petered out in 2020. The French driver initially declined to race on ovals before committing to a full-time programme in 2022 after easing his fears.

“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.”

Rossi was also asked for his thoughts on the 2022 F1 season and about the ongoing battle between Red Bull and Ferrari at the sharp end of the championship. Asked whether he would rather be driving the RB18 or the F1-75, Rossi smiled.

“Neither! I’m pretty happy in IndyCar,” he joked.

“Both seem to be doing a good job. I think the Ferrari is probably a quicker race car over the lap. It seems that for one reason or another they struggle to get the race result, whether that’s a strategy situation or [something else].

“Ferrari always seem to make strange calls during the race from the pit-lane standpoint. Ultimately, Max is doing a phenomenal job, as he usually does, and probably carrying the Red Bull a little higher than maybe it should. Having said that, obviously Sergio won in Monaco.

“So I think both of those teams are obviously performing at a high level and all four drivers seem to be doing a very good job as well. It’s entertaining for me to watch and to be a spectator of.”