Team Penske drivers McLaughlin and Andretti Autosport’s Grosjean battled for the lead after the final round of pit stops, having earlier almost come together after the first pit stop sequence at Turn 4.
With 28 laps to go, leader McLaughlin came out of the pits on cold tyres, with Grosjean – on recently changed and fresh, hot rubber – just behind him. As they charged into Turn 4, Grosjean tried to slow him down on the outside, but McLaughlin braked hard too, locking his rear and putting them both into the tire barrier.
Grosjean was on the spot while McLaughlin was thrown off balance and bounced back. He received a drive-through penalty for unnecessary contact and finished the race in 13th place while Grosjean was classified 18th.
“First and foremost I feel very sorry for Romain, he’s a friend of mine and I know we both wanted to fight for the win there,” McLaughlin told NBC. “I just made a big mistake.
“I tried to push on cold tires but I just didn’t have the grip there like on the greens [Firestone’s alternate tyre] and locked the rear wheels and unfortunately this time we had wheel contact which killed us both.
“Look, I don’t race like that. My apologies, I feel like I’ve had a lot of good fights with a lot of good riders just disappointed in my crew. Fuel economy was great and I just did a lot of stuff man.
“You have this: you have your good days and bad days, and I really have to apologize to Romain. I will visit him soon.”
When informed that his 13th place finish meant it wasn’t such a bad day for him in the championship race as many expected frontrunners were struggling, McLaughlin stated: “I’m focused on my own mistakes, I have to be better and do better better decisions.
“In the end I think I was just fighting for the win, I knew that if we had gotten out in front of him at Turn 4 we would have had a chance.
“Great excuse. I was just riding hard man I promise I don’t race like that so I’m very disappointed. We finished the race but I will meet up with Romain now.”
Romain Grosjean, Andretti Autosport Honda, Pole Award, Pole Winner
Photo by: Gavin Baker / Motorsport Images
Grosjean, who hit the tire wall in anger after retiring from the race, believes IndyCar should review its racing rules.
“What happened was what you can see on TV so I don’t want to get into that too much,” said the former F1 ace. “I am very disappointed and I hope that there will be rules.
“We had a really fast car, the team did a great job, but I’m really annoyed to talk during the race.”
When asked if he still has respect for McLaughlin, Grosjean added: “I still admire what he’s done, he comes from V8 Supercars and he’s done a really good job but what we saw on the track today , is not a race.”