More heartbreak for McLaren
A matter of hours after Lando Norris lost victory at the Russian Grand Prix, McLaren took another body-blow in California after O’Ward’s title shot deflated on lap two through no fault of his own. The 22-year-old Mexican started eighth, two places ahead of Palou, but any chance of overturning his points deficit ended when Ed Jones made a clumsy lunge at the tight hairpin. Jones slid up the inside of James Hinchliffe’s Andretti Autosport entry and tapped the rear of O’Ward’s car, spinning him around. It was unnecessary and a frustrating way for McLaren’s first full season back in IndyCar to end. O’Ward did continue but a broken driveshaft on lap 18 was a legacy of the contact and his title longshot was spent.
“It’s not the first time (Jones) has hit us,” said an understandably miffed O’Ward. “And not the first time he’s done something stupid this season. So I just wish he could use his head a little bit more; at least respect the guys that are fighting the championship. I don’t know what else to say.”
His team boss Zak Brown missed Sochi to stand on the McLaren pit wall at Long Beach and his frustration was all too obvious. “Definitely not a great day, both here and in Russia,” he said. “But both the team and Pato have done an incredible job all season. We were taken out by a kind of amateur move before the race had really started.”