Verizon IndyCar Series drivers Simon Pagenaud and Gabby Chaves have disagreed with each other over an incident during last weekend’s 2018 Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park. The pair were seen angrily exchanging words on the pit-lane after the race.
In a video posted to Twitter by AutoWeek’s Matt Weaver, Team Penske‘s Pagenaud can be seen confronting Chaves, accusing the Harding Racing driver of holding him up while he was trying to lap the Columbian. The Frenchman believed that Chaves’ actions cost him valuable time to the drivers on the lead-lap that he was battling. Simon would go on to finish the race in ninth, believing that he could well have been in the top five had it not been for Chaves holding him up.
Chaves, however, states in the video that he let Pagenaud by as soon as he got side-by-side with him. The pair then continued to hurl insults at each other, eventually resulting in Pagenaud storming away before a resolution was found.
Pagenaud would go later go on to explain his frustration with Chaves in post-race interviews:
“We had a pretty good race going and I think we potentially could have been a top five [finisher],” said Simon, “So, I was very frustrated with Gabby [Chaves]. He was two laps down. And I just got stuck behind him, which gave an opportunity to [Scott] Dixon as I was trying everything I could to make it happen.”
“The biggest problem we had was Chaves was two laps down,” He would add later on, “You know, if you’re one lap down, I get it, it’s IndyCar, you might get a chance back. So you should fight for your position — but when you’re two laps down, it’s not your day.
“It’s just a shame to take away from somebody else that could have a better day.”
Chaves, too, would also discuss the confrontation between himself and Pagenaud with the media. He also went on to talk about some of the specific things that Pagenaud said to him in the discussion, including that he allegedly threatened to deliberately hold him up in future races as payback:
“I know the position he was in is frustrating, but we’re running a race, too, so it’s tough for everyone,” Chaves said post-race, “But it’s unfair that he thinks the track belongs to him.”
“I think he just needed someone to blame for his race,” he continued, “If you want to have a conversation, let’s have a conversation. I’m all for that. But he’s coming at me barking: ‘[Expletive] this, [expletive] that. Next time you’re in contention to win the race, and I’m in a bad position, I’m going to [expletive] up your race.’ And, to me, that’s not a conversation, so I told him to get the [expletive] out of here.”
Chaves finished the race two laps down in seventeenth place. He and his team, Harding Racing, have had a tough start to the team’s first full-time season in IndyCar. Chaves has only finished one of the first four races on the lead lap in the #88 car, with the team still searching for speed as the season goes on.
“Today’s conditions were not ideal for us to start,” Chaves said, “Our strategy we used yesterday to hope for a yellow to get our lap back obviously never came. We just did more to learn, try to gauge our pace and try to keep improving. I thought we really improved on our pace compared to everyone else and we did well to pick up a few positions at the end of the day and brought the car home. Now we get to work on our most important month of the year.”
Pagenaud and Chaves will next share the track in the next round of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series. The Grand Prix of Indianapolis will take place on May 12 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Grand Prix circuit.