Photo: Mahindra Racing

Felix Rosenqvist returns to U.S. street courses at NYC ePrix

Leave a comment

One of the stars of last season’s Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires was Felix Rosenqvist, who won three of the four street course races for Belardi Auto Racing in a partial season.

The Swede was meant to have Indy Lights as a full program but only ran through Indianapolis before another driver (James French) took his place at Road America, before he returned at Toronto in mid-July last year.

On that weekend, Rosenqvist came back as if he’d never left with a pair of pole-to-flag romps for victories, for his second and third wins of the season.

But with his career taking him to new places in the last 12 months – he’s raced a Mercedes-AMG GT3 in sports cars, he tested an IndyCar with Chip Ganassi Racing at Mid-Ohio (and has been rumored to do so again this year), he’s raced at Le Mans with DragonSpeed, at Macau in Formula 3, in DTM with Mercedes, in Super Formula with Toyota and the FIA Formula E Championship with Mahindra Racing – Rosenqvist hasn’t made much in the way of visits to North America for racing since, other than to Mexico City for the FE round there in April.

Fortunately that changes this weekend at the Qualcomm New York City ePrix, where Rosenqvist enters the weekend third in points on the heels of his first Formula E win at Berlin last month. He also just banked his first Super Formula podium last weekend in Fuji, when he finished second.

He would have had a weekend sweep there, but for a pit safety infraction on the mandatory car change pit stop in the second race and a 10-second penalty assessed as a result. That gave the win to Renault e.dams’ Sebastien Buemi even though Rosenqvist was first on the road.

The Swede told my MST colleague Luke Smith that his American street course experience would help in Formula E and it’s proven that way this season.

“I can’t wait to go racing in New York City. I’ve competed in the United States before but I’m looking forward to racing around the streets of Brooklyn in the M3Electro,” Rosenqvist said in the team’s pre-race release.

“It’s a really important race for the team and we’re confident we can continue our podium streak – and hopefully chase down more wins! I’m also really looking forward to exploring the city – I’ve only been to New York once but didn’t get a chance to see the sights.”

The doubleheader of races takes place this weekend on Saturday and Sunday.

James Hinchcliffe on Andretti: ‘It’s certainly the place I want to be’

Leave a comment

Since before the start of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, James Hinchcliffe tirelessly has worked to ensure the future would include a full-time return in 2021.

And with an opportunity to run the final three races this season with Andretti Autosport, there seems a surefire (albeit unlikely) path.

“If I go out and win all three,” Hinchcliffe joked with IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview Friday (watch the video above), “it would be hard for them to say no, right?”

Regardless of whether he can go unbeaten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next weekend or the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida (where he earned his first career win in 2013), Hinchcliffe will have the chance to improve his stock with the team that he knows well and now has an opening among its five cars for 2021.

All three of Hinchcliffe’s starts this season — the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, July 4 at the IMS road course and the Indianapolis 500 — were with Andretti, where he ran full time in IndyCar from 2012-14.

“Obviously, the plan from January 2020 was already working on ’21 and trying to be in a full-time program,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed being reunited with Andretti Autosport, and everybody there has been so supportive. It’s been a very fun year for me on track. It’s been kind of a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways.

“It’s certainly the place I want to be moving forward. We’ve been working on that, working on those conversations. Genesys has been an incredible partner in my three races. We’ll be representing Gainbridge primarily, but Genesys will still have a position on our car in the last three.”

Gainbridge is the primary sponsor of the No. 26 Dallara-Honda that was vacated by Zach Veach, who left the team after it was determined he wouldn’t return in 2021. Hinchcliffe can empathize having lost his ride with Arrow McLaren SP after last season with a year left on his deal.

“You never want to earn a ride at the expense of somebody else in the sense that has happened here with Zach,” Hinchcliffe said. “I feel bad that he’s not able to see out the last three races of his season. I’ve got a lot of respect for him off track. He’s been a teammate this year, a colleague for years before that and honestly a friend for years before that. I’ve got a lot of time for him and his family. I understand a little bit of what it’s like in that position and what he’s going through.”

Hinchcliffe is ready to seize the moment, though, starting with the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had been hoping to add the Harvest Indy Grand Prix to his schedule and had been working out for the possibility.

“Then last week I had given up hope (and) was resigned that wasn’t happening,” he said. “I told my trainer, ‘I think we’re done for this year.’ Three days later, this call comes. I’m glad we didn’t make that decision too early. I feel great physically.

“I look at it as a great opportunity to continue to show I’ve still got what it takes and should be there hopefully full time next year on the grid.”

Watch Hinchliffe’s video with Leigh Diffey above or by clicking here.