until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Ericsson wins destructive St Petersburg IndyCar opener

by Jack Benyon
9 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Marcus Ericsson won the St Petersburg IndyCar opener after leaders Romain Grosjean and Scott McLaughlin collided, Pato O’Ward had a plenum fire and much of the field was lost to incidents.

After two earlier airborne incidents the race really came to a head at the last pitstop when long-time race leaders Grosjean of Andretti Autosport and Team Penske’s McLaughlin crashed at Turn 4.

Grosjean was on hot tyres after his stop on the previous lap and McLaughlin emerged immediately defending at Turn 3.

Grosjean tried an ambitious move around the outside of Turn 4 but we’ll never know if it would have worked because McLaughlin lost the rear of his car under braking at corner entry and smashed into Grosjean, with both drivers ending up in the tyre wall.

It was another heartbreak for Grosjean after his second IndyCar pole, as he still waits to win his first race of any kind since 2011.

“You guys deserve better,” said McLaughlin on the radio to his team, having cost himself a chance at defending his victory from this track last year. After the race he apologised multiple times.

The drama catapulted Arrow McLaren’s O’Ward into the lead with a gaggle of piranha-like Ganassi cars – three to be exact – chomping at him.

Ericsson was the first of those, and while he came under pressure from team-mate Scott Dixon on the restart, he soon erased O’Ward’s 2.2-second advantage to harry O’Ward for the final 10 laps.

Ericsson was told O’Ward was struggling to get the power down, and with four laps to go O’Ward slowed momentarily coming off the final hairpin due to a plenum fire that caused his engine to cut, handing the lead to Ericsson.

O’Ward could barely speak in his post-race interview, such was his dismay.

Ericsson, something of a street course specialist in IndyCar now, took his fourth IndyCar win off the back of a really strong qualifying – Ganassi’s main area of focus in the off-season.

O’Ward spent the rest of the race defending from Dixon, and managed to hold him off to the line for second.

Dixon’s push to the front was helped by one of the event’s many incidents just before halfway when Rinus VeeKay smashed into the tyres at Turn 3, which caught Jack Harvey out. As the Rahal Letterman Lanigan car hit VeeKay’s crashed Carpenter machine, Kyle Kirkwood was caught up too and literally vaulted over both. Harvey went to hospital after the race for precautionary checks and was released shortly afterwards.

The long caution helped Dixon run fewer laps on the soft tyre than his top 10 rivals who started on the harder compound. On the last stop he was also hamstrung by the caution coming out when he otherwise would have taken the lead from McLaughlin leaving the pits.

Alexander Rossi ran the same strategy as Dixon and also benefited from the caution, but drove well on his debut for Arrow McLaren for fourth.

Callum Ilott rounded out the top five having started 22nd – also on the Dixon/Rossi strategy – for his best career finish for one of IndyCar’s smaller teams in Juncos Hollinger Racing.

So many drivers were rewarded with sensible driving in a race of attrition and Graham Rahal was one of those who struggled in qualifying after changing brakes and started 20th but stayed out of trouble and drove well.

Will Power went to the back of the field after shunting Colton Herta off at Turn 8. Herta had been second early on but lunched his tyres and fell back as others got ahead on strategy.

Power was still able to fight back to seventh, ahead of 2021 champion Alex Palou, Christian Lundgaard and David Malukas.

Rookies Marcus Armstrong and Agustin Canapino rounded out the top 12 after Armstrong was given a puncture by Malukas earlier on.

Canapino started his IndyCar career in spectacular fashion having been in his position on pace, after making the switch from tin-tops in Argentina.

He learned English in three months and set his key goal this weekend as finishing the race which many more experienced drivers didn’t manage on Sunday.

Canapino was the last finisher on the lead lap in 12th, with 27 cars starting the race.

The race was almost immediately delayed after two incidents at Turn 3. Felix Rosenqvist was nudged into the outside wall, taking him out of eighth.

Behind, a five-car incident started by Simon Pagenaud being spun into the wall caused a concertina effect. The stationary Devlin DeFrancesco was smashed into the air by Benjamin Pedersen, who ploughed into the side of him having been unable to avoid the cars already caught up in the shunt. All escaped unhurt, while the race was red-flagged for a spell.

Race Results

Pos Name Team Car Laps Laps Led Total Time Fastest Lap Pitstops Pts
1 Marcus Ericsson Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 100 4 2h5m30.79s 1m01.657s 3 51
2 Patricio O'Ward Arrow McLaren SP Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 100 23 +2.412s 1m01.734s 3 41
3 Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 100 3 +2.926s 1m01.643s 3 36
4 Alexander Rossi Arrow McLaren SP Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 100 0 +6.769s 1m02.085s 3 32
5 Callum Ilott Juncos Hollinger Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 100 0 +8.265s 1m02.068s 3 30
6 Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 100 0 +10.767s 1m02.155s 3 28
7 Will Power Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 100 0 +11.68s 1m01.912s 3 26
8 Alex Palou Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 100 0 +14.725s 1m01.51s 3 24
9 Christian Lundgaard Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 100 0 +14.953s 1m01.687s 3 22
10 David Malukas Dale Coyne Racing/HMD Motorsports Dallara DW12-Honda 100 2 +15.44s 1m02.202s 4 21
11 Marcus Armstrong Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 100 0 +15.805s 1m01.877s 4 19
12 Agustín Canapino Juncos Hollinger Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 100 0 +28.133s 1m02.28s 3 18
13 Scott McLaughlin Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 99 37 +1 lap 1m02.03s 6 20
14 Conor Daly Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 99 0 +1 lap 1m02.172s 5 16
15 Kyle Kirkwood Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 97 0 +3 laps 1m01.853s 5 15
Sting Ray Robb Dale Coyne Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 96 0 DNF 1m02.685s 6 14
Josef Newgarden Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 95 0 DNF 1m01.852s 5 13
Romain Grosjean Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 71 31 DNF 1m01.946s 3 14
Felix Rosenqvist Arrow McLaren SP Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 51 0 DNF 1m01.808s 4 11
Colton Herta Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 49 0 DNF 1m02.067s 2 10
Rinus VeeKay Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 41 0 DNF 1m02.424s 2 9
Jack Harvey Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 41 0 DNF 1m02.798s 2 8
Hélio Castroneves Meyer Shank Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 0 0 DNF 0s 0 7
Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 0 0 DNF 0s 0 6
Devlin DeFrancesco Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 0 0 DNF 0s 0 5
Simon Pagenaud Meyer Shank Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 0 0 DNF 0s 0 5
Benjamin Pedersen AJ Foyt Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 0 0 DNF 0s 0 5
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