Supercars series leader and defending champion has backed his own reaction to last Sunday’s off-track exchange with media and Shane van Gisbergen, following the latter’s controversial race-winning pass at turn 11 of the Townsville parklands circuit.
McLaughlin labelled the move, which resulted in Red Bull teammate Jamie Whincup also benefiting, “average” — going on to say that his countryman was “playing the team game”.
Van Gisbergen, meanwhile, responded by referring to DJR Team Penske’s Bathurst 2019 safety car saga. “We don’t need to bring up ‘debriss’ and stuff like that. I thought it was a fair pass on my part,” he said.
Speaking in his Grove Racing Scott’s Corner blog, McLaughlin didn’t back down from his original comments — simultaneously advocating for more outspoken characters in the Supercars paddock.
“Look, afterwards I should have said nothing,” he said. “On reflection I was the one who inflamed the situation, but isn’t that what we want from our drivers to speak their mind and be honest?
“I was clearly ticked off, more for the battle that was lost between Jamie and I for second and for the fans who missed out on seeing what would have been an awesome run to the line between the two guys gunning for the title.
“I said it was a pretty average move – and a few days later, I haven’t changed my view. I’ve still got the best team behind me. I’ve still got a brilliant car underneath me. And maybe a few choice words can help add more spice and eyeballs for what’s to come.”
The Supercars series has shifted its policy several times on allowing drivers to speak their minds. Former category CEO Tony Cochrane was known for allowing drivers to be outspoken about on-track drama.
In more recent times the category has toe’d a line of caution — most notably in November 2019 when current CEO Sean Seamer issued a letter to teams regarding social media conduct, after a driver likened McLaughlin to Lance Armstrong in a post on Instagram.