Helio Castroneves believed his attempt to win his fourth Indianapolis 500 was thwarted by a clash with JR Hildebrand on lap 162 that damaged the left-rear wheel pod of his #3 Team Penske machine.
The Brazilian had been in contention for victory up until that point, but was delayed as his team were forced to change the whole rear-wing assembly in the pit lane, although he benefited from doing this under a caution period when Takuma Sato hit the wall at turn four.
Despite not losing a lap as he would have done had he pitted when the track was green, Castroneves was not able to make his way up the field again, finishing in eleventh, but the Brazilian criticised Hildebrand for the incident.
“I felt a bump and basically that put us in a situation that was almost impossible to come back,” said Castroneves. “I’m really, really, really upset.
“Especially in a race that is so important and for someone who races once – I can understand it if it’s someone who’s fighting for the lead – but, come on, it’s ridiculous.”
Hildebrand took full responsibility for the incident, which happened when he was unsure on whether to challenge him on the inside or outside of the front-stretch, with the American feeling sad that it cost Castroneves the chance of another Indianapolis 500 victory.
“I’ve got to go apologize to him,” admitted Hildebrand. “It starts to get really dicey when you don’t know if you need to go to the outside, if you need to go to the inside, guys are running inside and outside.
“I thought I was going to need to go to the outside. He stayed out longer, so I changed direction and caught him and flipped him on the bumper pod. I feel really bad about it. I know it screwed up his race.
“He deserves another serious shot at this, but at the end of the day, it’s all so close out there.”