Felix Rosenqvist endured the highs and lows of a roller coaster known as the 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season with Arrow McLaren SP.
Swedish driver Rosenqvist started the season with four consecutive finishes outside the top 10, leading to some whispers whether the team would retain him. His form picked up in the Month of May at Indianapolis and a fourth-place result in the 106th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.
McLaren Racing re-signed Rosenqvist in late June but didn’t name his series destination for 2023, leading some to believe he would return to Formula E in McLaren’s entry. But all along, Rosenqvist told anyone who would listen that he wanted to stay in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and then set out to make his case where it matters most – on track.
Rosenqvist recorded 10 top-10 finishes in the last 13 races of the season, climbing to eighth in the final standings, his best result since he finished sixth in his rookie season in 2019. McLaren responded in mid-September by announcing Rosenqvist would continue to race with Arrow McLaren SP in 2023 in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES as a teammate to AMSP veteran Pato O’Ward and team newcomer Alexander Rossi as AMSP expands to three full-time cars.
Mission accomplished. Now, it’s time to check in with the speedy Swede to see what he’s doing to unwind from a stressful but successful 2022 campaign and prepare for next season.
Q: What have you been up to since the season finale at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca?
Rosenqvist: I’ve spent quite a lot of time back home in Monaco and seen my family, but I’ve also had a few trips back to Indianapolis and Charlotte, where our simulator is based. To be honest, I wouldn’t mind if the new season began a week after the finale. I think the break is way too long, even though it’s a relaxing time that allows you to recharge a little bit.
Q: Next year will see Arrow McLaren SP expand from two cars to three with Alexander Rossi joining the team, and even four at the Indy 500, with Tony Kanaan in that seat. How is that expansion going, and can you feel the team grow?
Rosenqvist: It’s going well so far. We’ve run three cars at the Indy 500 for a number of years now, so we’ve had a taste of what it takes from an organizational standpoint. It feels like the timing is right for a full-time scale-up. We’ve grown progressively over the last few seasons, and instead of hiring a lot of new people all at once, it’s a process that’s been ongoing for at least one year.
Q: How do you expect the addition of a third car to affect you on track in 2023?
Rosenqvist: It’s always a challenge to grow, but given the way it’s happening, I feel like it will only strengthen us and provide a lot of new tools in our championship pursuit. It’s been numerous times over the past two years that we’ve really missed having an extra car. Running just two, you’re a little bit constrained evaluating setups. Having an additional 50 percent of data – and relevant data through a skilled driver like Alex Rossi – is going to be invaluable, in my opinion.
Q: As a result of the expansion, you will shift from the No. 7 to the No. 6 car next year. Will that have any wider knock-on effects on the group around you?
Rosenqvist: All is not finalized, but the general plan is to keep my crew as intact as possible. There will be a few changes, though. My engineer from this season, Craig Hampson, will be on the Rossi car and Chris Lawrence (formerly head of simulation and strategy on the No. 7 car) will replace him in my group. It’s a bit mixed, because I really enjoyed working with Craig, and he’s one of the best race engineers in the business. On the other hand, Chris is one of our brightest engineers. He’s been on the team for a long time and is ready for race engineering. On top of his skills, he’s also a close friend off track, and we spend a lot of time together in Indianapolis, so I think the ingredients are all there for a great collaboration.
Q: This season was largely a positive one, and a significant step in performance over 2021. You took eighth in the championship and were in contention for victory in the Indy 500. What are the focus areas this winter as you bid for even more in 2023?
Rosenqvist: I’d say our emphasis as a team is on improving the pace on street courses, and for me as a driver, short ovals. I’m keen to take the same step on short ovals that I’ve done on superspeedways; that would give me a strong championship package. Also, we must do better in the early parts of the season and ensure we’re on it from day one. I do think we’ll have completely different tools for that in 2023, so I’m confident we can be a lot stronger out of the gates in St. Pete.