Scott McLaughlin says he was surprised and disappointed by comments from Jamie Whincup which seemed to suggest that DJR Team Penske is a “one-plus-one” operation.
The Shell V-Power Racing Team driver worked his way into the lead of Race 24 at Robson Civil Project Townsville SuperSprint only to be overhauled late in the piece.
Shane van Gisbergen of the Red Bull Holden Racing Team caught and passed his countryman at Turn 11 on Lap 36 in Townsville.
In doing so, van Gisbergen cast McLaughlin wide to allow the trailing Whincup through.
After the race, van Gisbergen said he was “just doing the team thing” to aid his Triple Eight Race Engineering stable-mate.
Meanwhile, Whincup suggested his team’s strength was in its two-car set-up and not as a “one-plus-one” outfit.
McLaughlin was left frustrated by the move, which starved him of an opportunity to fight with Whincup.
The championship leader was also disappointed in Whincup’s implied jibe that McLaughlin’s team-mate Fabian Coulthard wasn’t helping his championship challenge.
“You probably expect more from a guy like him,” said McLaughlin.
“That’s what his view is; whether we believe that or not is another thing.
“You go through peaks and troughs just like he has in the last few years with Shane battling for championships and he wasn’t.
“I think we work as well as a team as anyone up and down pit lane and I’m sure Fabs is the same.
“It’s disappointing when you hear comments like that,” McLaughlin added.
“I think the whole reason I was disappointed or upset was purely because I didn’t get a chance to go one-on-one with Jamie.
“It’s just one of those things where I didn’t expect a comment like that. But that’s how it is I guess.”
Asked what he thought of Whincup’s remark, Coulthard replied, “If that’s what he thinks, that’s what he thinks. I think it’s mind games.”
Posed with whether he thought the move by van Gisbergen was subtle, McLaughlin believed it was obvious that van Gisbergen had tried to force him wide.
McLaughlin said the pass was on, but didn’t believe it was necessary to force him out wide knowing he was at a tyre disadvantage.
“It’s one of those deals where I knew he had the pace, he had plenty more on me, he had so much grip in the corner, and he’s decided to run me a car width wide,” said McLaughlin.
“Would he have done that with another car behind me? Probably not.
“It was Jamie, and I get that. Mate, the team game, 100 percent I get that, but I just felt it was too obvious in some ways. That’s how it is.”
McLaughlin holds a 143-point lead over Whincup in the drivers’ championship. Coulthard, meanwhile, lies seventh in the standings with most recent finishes of seventh, 20th, and eighth.