If anywhere could snap a driver into full Jean Girard Mode, it would have to be one of IndyCar’s tight street courses. Good news! IndyCar’s season opener is on the chaotic street course at St. Petersburg, and Sébastien Bourdais already got into it with Mikhail Aleshin after a practice session. Yes, a practice session.
During yesterday’s morning practice session, Aleshin came out of the pits in front of Bourdais, causing the two cars to come together. Bourdais decided to confront Aleshin about it after the session.
Guys. Practice session. I repeat: practice session. Not the race. Not even qualifying. Practice. Session.
USA Today notes that Bourdais and Aleshin have some history of beefing with each other that goes back to 2014, hence Bourdais saying, “There’s not going to be a bloody repeat of two years ago” in the video.
Bourdais explained his side of the incident to USA Today after qualifying:
I’ll let everybody else judge it, but when you leave the pits on the checkered flag lap and impede your fellow competitor, it doesn’t seem like a bright idea. He forgets to look in his mirrors, but then he looks up when he gets a blue flag. It’s like, “Dude, seriously? What are we doing? Are we in kindergarten here?”
Bourdais also told USA Today that he shared some fault in the incident as well:
I tried to make a point to run up on him, and I ended up in his rear bumper slightly. No harm, no foul, but you hate to find yourself in these situations where all you want to do is be able to work and not be in people’s way and not be impeded. Not being able to do that with a guy you’ve had incidents with before is not really fair racing.
C’mon, dude. Given the way IndyCar aero kits like to leave carbon fiber Easter eggs on track after the slightest of contact, there’s at least some foul in being so aggressive behind a slower car that you hit the back of their car. Problem is, it’s significantly harder to pass on these narrow, walled-in street circuits, too, and slower cars really shouldn’t be keeping faster traffic from making a good, flying lap, either.
Bourdais also indicated to USA Today that Aleshin had already apologized for incidents on Friday, adding to Bourdais’ annoyance factor when Aleshin came out of the pits in front of him during Saturday’s practice.
Bourdais ultimately qualified eighth for today’s race, and Aleshin 18th. With all eyes on IndyCar heading into the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500, tensions are already high. We’ll see how that pans out today.
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