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As Formula E season ends, Rosenqvist’s IndyCar buzz heats up

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LEXINGTON, Ohio – It’s not often a guy with less than a full season in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires competition gets on the radar as a highly rated potential Verizon IndyCar Series prospect.

Felix Rosenqvist, though, is not your average Indy Lights part-timer.

The Swede just completed his first full season in the FIA Formula E Championship this weekend in Montreal with Mahindra Racing, finishing third in the series with several wins.

But he has also been the subject of intense hype and speculation in the Verizon IndyCar Series paddock, following his second test with Chip Ganassi Racing at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course prior to Montreal. This all comes after an impressive partial season in Indy Lights last year with Belardi Auto Racing, when he won three races.

The disclaimer first is that Rosenqvist, who’s become a jack-of-all-trades in the last two years with the variety of series, machinery and continents he’s raced on, will only become a realistic IndyCar prospect if he doesn’t have an existing commitment that comes first. And certainly, one would figure Mahindra to be keen on retaining Rosenqvist’s services for a second season in that championship if possible.

Nonetheless, the chatter is there about Rosenqvist in IndyCar as a true “can’t miss, blue chip” prospect, and the prospect of him racing here is a tantalizing one.

“After I did Indy Lights last year, I told myself that I probably wanted to come back one day,” Rosenqvist told my MST colleague Luke Smith at this weekend’s Formula E finale in Montreal.

“I quite liked it over there, quite a relaxed racing attitude, a bit more friendly than Europe. I said that IndyCar is one of the championships I always really liked.

“It’s a bit like Formula E, you have street circuits, you have normal circuits, you have ovals. It’s like three different championships in the same championships.

“I would say the best driver normally wins the championship. We’ll see what happens. It’s always difficult to say, but it was definitely a good session and hopefully another opportunity for the future.”

Rosenqvist said because of how much Formula E is growing, that it’d be harder to do a complementary program either way, if Formula E or IndyCar was the priority.

“I think both Formula E and IndyCar are getting so big now, you cannot really combine much,” he explained. “I’m lucky this year to be able to do Super Formula on top of Formula E. I think it’s the only championship which doesn’t really clash. I think we are lucky as long as we can do that, but one day I think Formula E drivers will have to commit 100 percent.”

Rosenqvist, who is managed by ex-Formula 1 and IndyCar veteran Stefan Johansson, said it’s “hard to say” whether he could be considered for the IndyCar free agent pool this year, and preferred to focus on Montreal before worrying about his future.

Chip Ganassi Racing managing director Mike Hull stopped short of saying Rosenqvist would be an ideal teammate for Scott Dixon, also managed by Johansson, next year in IndyCar, but certainly highlighted his ability after his second test.

“First of all he’s a quality guy. He’s grown up in a system of racing where every day counts. You have to get the most out of today,” Hull told NBC Sports at Mid-Ohio.

“I think he represents a lot of young guys that because of the way economy of Formula 1 has changed, they don’t get the opportunity to get to the grid without having money. As an example today, on the Formula E grid, there’s a lot of guys on that grid who should be in F1 today but can’t buy their way in.

“He deserves an opportunity just like a lot of other young guys do. He’s young, aggressive, and has a lot of ability.

“I think he represents the kind of driver that should be driving IndyCars.

“I don’t think it’s fair to single him out and say, ‘hey, that’s the guy we want’ – but we want guys like him driving our race cars.”

Luke Smith contributed to this report

Hamilton tops second Abu Dhabi F1 practice with new track record

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Lewis Hamilton swept to the top of the timesheets in second Formula 1 practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Friday evening, beating Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel by one-tenth of a second.

Hamilton trailed Vettel through the daytime-run opening practice session, but managed to strike back by recording a new track record at the Yas Marina Circuit for Mercedes.

Hamilton recorded a fastest lap time of 1:37.877 to finish one-tenth of a second clear of Vettel at the checkered flag, appearing to have an edge across a single lap on the ultra-soft tire.

Red Bull threw its hat into the ring as a possible rival for pole through Daniel Ricciardo, who finished the session third-fastest, three-tenths of a second back from Hamilton at the head of the field.

Kimi Raikkonen ended FP2 in fourth place in the sister Ferrari, finishing within half a second of Hamilton, and managed to edge out fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas, who was a further two-tenths back in P5.

Max Verstappen failed to get in a quick flying lap during FP2, ending the session one second down in P6 for Red Bull.

Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon’s tight intra-team fight at Force India continued through FP2 as the pair were separated by just 0.01 seconds, taking seventh and eighth respectively to finish as the leading midfield drivers.

Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso completed the top 10 for Renault and McLaren, with Felipe Massa following in 11th for Williams on his final Friday appearance in F1.

Massa was fortunate to avoid an accident with Ricciardo during the final 15 minutes of the session after a mix up at the hairpin when the Brazilian tried to get a wider line for the back straight.

Running in Abu Dhabi continues with final practice at Yas Marina on Saturday morning from 5am ET on the NBC Sports app, followed by qualifying at 8am ET on NBCSN.