The Grand Prix of St. Petersburg circuit uses an Albert Whitted Airport runway as its frontstretch — meaning airplanes are usually the only ones airborne. But two frightening wrecks on Sunday saw multiple cars’ tires leaving the ground.
Hectic starts are a frequent occurrence in the opening laps on the streets of St. Petersburg, and this year was no different. On the first lap of the race, Arrow McLaren’s Felix Rosenqvist tagged the wall after being pushed wide by Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon, and chaos also ensued in an unrelated accident behind him.
Meyer Shank Racing’s Helio Castroneves and A.J. Foyt Enterprises’ Santino Ferruci collided, causing drivers behind to pile up. Andretti Autosport’s Devlin DeFrancesco had nowhere to go and ran into Castroneves — causing him to go into the air as A.J. Foyt Enterprises’ Benjamin Pederson launched into him at full speed, seemingly not seeing the accident while coming through Turn 3.
On lap 42, Andretti Autosport’s Kyle Kirkwood also went airborne after hitting Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus Veekay’s rear tire in just the right manner, launching Kirkwood’s car into the air. Veekay and Kirkwood were both okay after the frightening wreck. Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s Jack Harvey was also involved in the incident and was checked and released from Bayfront Medical Center.
Herta was involved in an incident with Power on lap 50, ending his day after a promising race start. Power was rightfully penalized, forcing him to go to the back of the field. A bit later in the race — after a pit stop by McLaughlin on lap 72, who was doing his best to hold off Grosjean — McLaughlin and Grosjean wrecked in Turn 4, ending Grosjean’s day.
McLaughlin and Power were both sent to the back of the field for their involvement in the wrecks that ended Grosjean and Herta’s days. Both wrecks could have been prevented had the two given their counterparts the necessary space throughout the corner.
On the team radio and during his interview after being released from the care center, Grosjean voiced his displeasure with McLaughlin.
“Today, what we saw on track was not racing,” Grosjean said.
After the race concluded, the two embraced outside of Grosjean’s team transporter and seemingly squashed any beef that was there.
But after all the wrecks, in what turned into a demolition derby, someone had to take home the twin checkers, right?
With four laps to go, it seemed that Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward was on his way to victory, but after a mistake in Turn 14, Marcus Ericsson was able to pass O’Ward en route to victory. Ericsson demonstrated his ability to keep himself out of trouble, being in the right position at the end to take home his first victory since the 2022 Indianapolis 500.
The season-opening race was full of chaos and entertaining racing until the very end, where Ericsson took control on his way to victory. If this is a sign of what is to come this season, it could be one of the best IndyCar seasons in recent memory.