Alexander Rossi has hit back at Max Verstappen's comments about the safety of the Indianapolis 500, describing them as a "cop-out".
The 2016 Indy 500 winner – and former F1 driver – has said that he was not surprised to hear Verstappen brand the 500-mile race as dangerous, but has made clear that he does not agree.
When asked over the Monaco Grand Prix weekend if he has ever considered racing at the Indy500 or Le Mans, Verstappen told media, including RacingNews365.com: "I've got no desire to chase the Triple Crown – at least, not IndyCar.
"I have a lot of respect for what they achieve there but, for me, especially after now being in F1 for such a long time already – I don't need to risk my life there and potentially injure myself, my legs. It's just not worth it anymore."
Rossi admits he once had no interest in Indy
Rossi responded to the comments by admitting that he too, during his own F1 career, shared some of Verstappen's views on the Indy 500, but says that competing in the event transformed his opinion on all things oval racing.
"I was that guy as well," he said, speaking to Sky Sports F1's Any Driven Monday show.
"When you're on a trajectory for F1 and your entire world revolves around F1, it's a sad state because other racing doesn't really exist to you. It's such a single-track focus.
"I was the same way. I knew what the Indy 500 was but I didn't really ever pay attention to it. But when you come and have the opportunity to do it, it truly is an incredibly special event – not just in motorsport but globally, it's the largest single-day sporting event on earth."
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Rossi: Safety argument is a cop-out
But Rossi wasn't happy to hear Verstappen cite the potential dangers of the Indy 500 as a reason for not competing, describing his comments as a "cop-out".
He then pointed to F1's Monaco Grand Prix, held on the same weekend as the American event, in which Mick Schumacher's Haas car split in two following a crash at the Swimming Pool section of the circuit.
"In a sense, it's more dangerous, maybe. But we had four crashes and didn't have a car splitting in half: you can't say that about the Monaco Grand Prix. I think the safety argument is a cop-out," Rossi continued.
"Those answers don't surprise me but that doesn't mean that I agree with them."
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