If you were to just go by IndyCar broadcasts and generic coverage, you might think Santino Ferrucci is the series’ new poster kid—its rising star, ready to take on the world without controversy and with a carefree smile on his face. But Ferrucci did a lot of not-great stuff before entering IndyCar, and he doesn’t seem too sorry about it.
Ferrucci, who was once America’s hope for a star-spangled Formula One driver but ended up in the U.S. after successive misconduct in Europe, now drives for Dale Coyne Racing in IndyCar. He’s ninth in points with two events left and his team wants him back next year, with owner Dale Coyne telling Motorsport.com he’s been “really impressed” with the “brave” and “open minded” driver.
Most IndyCar race coverage, like Coyne, has glossed completely over the various actions that, at least in part, led Ferrucci to the U.S.—choosing, instead, to talk about how well he’s doing in the series. But when asked about it all by Autoweek recently, the apologies didn’t exactly gush out. From the story:
But again, there were very few questions about Ferrucci’s ability to race at a high level. Does he regret any of the incidents in Europe that led him to IndyCar in the first place?
“Nope,” Ferrucci said.
To recap, Ferrucci was suspended from Formula 2 for two rounds in July of 2018 due to being “in breach of multiple regulations throughout [a] race,” including deliberately driving into the rear of then-teammate Arjun Maini during a cool-down lap. Ferrucci was also found to have forced Maini off of the track during the race on purpose while Maini tried to pass for position, and in both cases, the penalty report said, Ferrucci did not attend hearings with the stewards.
Here’s how the F2 penalty announcement worded it:
After the stewards had heard testimony from the team that this was a premeditated incident, Ferrucci was summoned to the hearing but declined to attend. As a consequence, the American driver has been suspended from the next two FIA Formula 2 Championship rounds - meaning he will not be permitted to participate in both Budapest and Spa-Francorchamps - and has also been given a fine of €60,000. [...]
Once again, Ferrucci declined to attend the hearing, and has been disqualified from the results of the Sprint Race.
That wasn’t all. The penalty report said Ferrucci was also seen by a technical delegate “transitioning from the support paddock to the race pit lane wearing just one glove and holding a phone in his hand”—texting and driving, basically, except in a race car.
Ferrucci’s team at the time, Trident, tweeted after the incidents that it wanted to show solidarity to Maini and his family, “for the unsportsmanlike and above all uncivilized behavior that he was forced to endure not only during this last weekend by Santino Ferrucci and father, who accompanied him.” (In regards to the mention of Ferruci’s father, there were online rumors of harassment from the Ferruccis in regards to Maini, who is from India, but a request for comment from Jalopnik asking about the rumors was not returned from either party.)
“Never in these 12 years of sporting activity has anything even close to this ever occurred,” the team said.
Trident dropped Ferrucci soon after, citing the race incidents and a “serious breach” of Ferrucci’s pay obligations in order to race with the team. The Haas F1 team kept him in its junior program at the time.
Ferrucci somewhat apologized for the incidents, tweeting that there was no premeditation, “only anger and frustration as this has been a horrific year.” He said there was no excuse for the “mental lapse” other than “the fact that [he is] a twenty-year-old Italian American with a deep passion for motorsport, which is a very emotional sport.”
Aside from the stuff in that penalty report, Ferrucci also tried to run a political slogan—a “Make America Great Again” one—despite his Trident team saying it told him political elements weren’t allowed by the FIA. But Ferrucci’s family was “insistent,” Trident team principal Maurizio Salvadori told Jalopnik.
Here’s more, from that story in July of 2018:
But Salvadori wasn’t as concerned with the slogan as he was with the Ferrucci family’s apparent behavior.
“The fact that this [issue] is circulating today on social media seems to me like a clumsy attempt to take the attention away from the principal problem that is, Santino’s and his father’s behavior on and outside the track in these last weekend races,” Salvadori said.
Salvadori did not elaborate on the comment about Ferrucci and his father’s apparent behavior when asked by Jalopnik.
Regardless, let’s now revisit the Autoweek story from last week:
Does he regret any of the incidents in Europe that led him to IndyCar in the first place?
“Nope,” Ferrucci said.
The story pivoted to Ferrucci’s comments about pressure afterword, and he told Autoweek he’s “used to the pressure and the expectation that he would slip up due to his European racing tenure,” and that he thinks he’s matured since then and is “better poised” to handle it. (There’s more from Autoweek here.)
But, again, the story made no mention of an apology. Here’s more, from it:
“Obviously, I’m in a different place now mentally,” he said. “I was under a super-high stress microscope in Formula 1, which is obviously a pinnacle of motorsport. You come here, get to be yourself.
“I don’t feel any of that pressure. Quite frankly, this is like a family to me. These guys have been great to me all year long. I don’t feel like anyone’s really judged me coming back home and racing IndyCars. I feel like we’ve had a really strong year and can continue to capitalize on that.”
And capitalize on that strong year he will likely be able to do, without much fuss from the people around him.