Alexander Rossi has no argument with race control’s decisions to declare full-course yellow and close the pits in both of the last two NTT IndyCar races, despite losing a potentially strong result in COTA by falling on the wrong side of a yellow.
Eventual COTA winner Colton Herta gained the initiative over Rossi by pitting right before a full-course caution closed the pits, giving him track position for the restart. On that occasion the yellow was prompted by Felix Rosenqvist being pitched into the Turn 19 wall and pit entry area after contact with James Hinchcliffe, while at Barber, the yellows waved when Graham Rahal’s car stopped on the track and, simultaneously, Max Chilton crashed on his way into the pits — but only after the leaders had pitted.
Those calls by race control were the target of criticism by some fans, but Rossi had no argument with either decision.
“There’s no rule defining what constitutes a full-course yellow,” he said. “I think Kyle [Novak, race director] has done a very good job of trying his best, when the situation allows, to not impact the race with a yellow.
“COTA — he didn’t have a choice, so no problem with that whatsoever; that’s just the luck of the draw type of thing. You go to Barber, I think he did a good job. I mean, we had Graham that was stranded on the back straight, wasn’t in a dangerous position. There’s going to be questions over Max, like … I don’t know, a 50/50 one, right?
“I think Kyle makes a conscious effort not to impact the race, but obviously, at the same time, safety still needs to be the number one priority and paramount, regardless of how annoying or frustrating it would be on that particular day. COTA was 100 percent the right thing to do, because whether or not there was a safety issue, cars couldn’t get into the pit lane. A yellow was coming there no matter what.”
Ed Carpenter Racing’s Spencer Pigot agreed, and said that the different approaches at the two races — closing the pits immediately at COTA; giving the leaders a chance to pit before the yellow at Barber — were responses to the particulars of each situation, rather than a change in policy after the leaders were caught out in Austin.
“At COTA, the crash was covering pit entrance, so you couldn’t really leave the pits open in that situation because there was a car and safety crew right there,” Pigot said. “Barber was a little bit different. Whether or not race control deems it as a dangerous situation … if they can keep the pits open until everyone gets a chance to pit, I think they will. If it could be more dangerous than it is, if it’s not worth the risk, I think they’ll close it right away. There’s nothing set in stone.”