Alexander Rossi highly motivated to put lost 2020 season behind: ‘None of it was good’

Alexander Rossi 2020 season
Chris Owens/IndyCar
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After a lot of “tough conversations” about a star-crossed 2020 season, Alexander Rossi said it was easy to identify the team’s underlying issues: Everything.

“I just think we sucked globally,” Rossi told reporters Friday during preseason NTT IndyCar Series Content Days in Indianapolis. “There wasn’t anything we were doing right, whether it was qualifying performance, whether it was race performance, pit stops, my driving. None of it was good.

“I think Indianapolis was quite an eye opener for everyone in terms of how fast all the Andretti Autosport cars were, and to come away with really nothing was not good. It wasn’t a good Monday.”

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If the Indianapolis 500 – where five Andretti Dallara-Hondas started in the top 10 but none finished in the top five at one of the team’s strongest tracks – was the nadir in late August, Rossi said the team turned a corner in the final two months and has continued to improve through the offseason.

Alexander Rossi, shown during preseason testing, went winless last season for the first time in IndyCar (Chris Owens/IndyCar).

But the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida, also remains the most recent reminder of how everything went wrong last year. Rossi led a race-high 61 laps but finished 21st after uncharacteristically wrecking in Turn 4, and teammates Colton Herta and James Hinchcliffe also placed outside the top 10 after leading laps.

“One should have won, whether me or Colton or James, and we all threw it away in one way or another,” said Rossi, who went winless for the first time in his five IndyCar seasons and finished ninth in the points standings.

The 2016 Indy 500 winner is known for that kind of bluntness, and he is pleased the same degree of candor also has pervaded Andretti’s assessments of last year.

“We just all were honest with each other, and we discussed things that were good and not good, and we took 2020 as an opportunity to learn from our mistakes,” Rossi said. “I think there’s so many positives we can take out of it, and the end of the year went really well for us for the most part, minus St. Pete, which is on me.

“I think we’re operating at a really high level right now, and I’m excited to get on track (for the season opener) in Barber.”

Though Andretti has made some personnel changes, Rossi’s No. 27 Dallara-Honda crew was unaffected, and it could be a case of addition by subtraction overall. After expanding to five full-time cars last season amidst whispers the organization might be overextended, Andretti has scaled back to four entries for 2021 (with Marco Andretti stepping back).

Alexander Rossi 2020 season
Alexander Rossi tests his No. 27 Dallara-Honda in January at Sebring International Raceway. Rossi said Andretti Autosport upgraded its testing equipment over the winter (Chris Owens/IndyCar).

Rossi said a reduction in practice time because of the COVID-19 pandemic minimized the benefit of having a series-high five entries in the 2020 season, but he was quick to add that he also needed to improve his efficacy.

“I think the biggest thing that hurt us was really the reduced track time,” he said. “(In) 2018-2019, we were never great on Fridays, and we would do a lot of work Friday night and come back Saturday for final practice and be there and qualify up front and the rest was kind of history.

“When you have that many cars and it’s such a condensed one-hour practice with a two-hour break, you can’t use the advantage of all those cars. You don’t have enough people and time to go through that amount of information and make educated decisions. The other thing is when COVID happens, all the wind tunnel, the shaker rig, the simulator time, it all disappeared. We didn’t have any tools available to us to figure out what our problems were and solve them. We had to do it all on track. I think that’s a lot of what you saw the first 70 percent of last year.

“The one big thing that we wanted to accomplish in preseason testing this year was making sure that our offline simulation was correlating to the on-track stuff, and we did a lot of really cool things this winter. Honda and HPD have played a pretty big role in that, and we’ve progressed forward quite a lot.”

But Rossi also is aiming at progress behind the wheel where “it’s never good enough. As much as we as a team struggled with the minimal practice time, I did as well. I wasn’t doing a good enough job getting up to speed quick enough, which was putting us on the back foot and having to take pretty big risks in qualifying. We were just never kind of in the top three, which is where you’ve got to be these days to win races.

Alexander Rossi 2020 season
During preseason testing at Sebring, Alexander Rossi exits the cockpit of his No. 27 Dallara-Honda, which returns the same crew in 2021 (Chris Owens/IndyCar).

“Obviously we had three failures in a row, got taken out of a race before the green flag even dropped. A lot of things that happened out of our control, as well. But I think even without those things, it’s not like we were really in the top two to five anyway. It was a lot of self-reflection from all involved, and we’ve all made efforts to get better and get stronger.”

Andretti should be inherently stronger because of this year’s schedule, which is expected to have the return of street races at Long Beach (likely Rossi’s best circuit) and Toronto.

The 2021 season already has begun well for the Nevada City, California, native, who was an integral part of Wayne Taylor Racing’s victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“It’s nice to start the season out with a win,” he said. “ I think that I’m driving well right now. I think everything is kind of coming naturally at this point.

“We’ve just got to keep it up. It’s one thing to have an event go well, but to win (the IndyCar) championship, you’ve got to be pretty much perfect for nine months. We’re starting that journey now, and I can’t wait. I’m more motivated than you can believe. I have a lot of points to prove.”

Max Verstappen is PointsBet favorite to score sixth staight in 2022 Singapore Grand Prix

PointsBet 2022 Singapore odds
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Max Verstappen is the PointsBet Sportsbook odds favorite to win the 2022 Singapore Grand Prix on the Marina Bay Street course to stretch his current win streak to six consecutive. He shows odds of -200 this week.

Formula 1 did not compete in Singapore in 2020 or 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Verstappen has podium finishes in his last two attempts on this track. he was second in 2018 and third in 2019. In the first 15 races of this season, he has failed to stand on the podium only twice and has an average finish of 2.73.

With minus odds, the way to determine a payout is by subtraction. In order for a bettor to earn $100, he must wager $200 this week; with that wager, he will get back his initial stake and winnings of $100.

For bettors more comfortable with fractional odds, a bet of +300 is the same as 3/1.

Charles Leclerc is ranked second this week with +400 odds. He has two previous Singapore GP starts to his credit with a best of second in 2019. He is coming off back-to-back podium finishes with a third in the Dutch GP and a second at Monza.

Ranked third is Carlos Sainz, Jr. with a line of +1100. He has top-five finishes in four of his last five starts, but only one of these, a third in the Belgian GP, was on the podium. Sainz is one of four winners other than Verstappen this season. His victory came in the British GP.

Lewis Hamilton shows a line of +1200. His last win came last fall in the Saudi Arabian GP and the Mercedes team has struggled to contend for victory in 2022. They are improving, however, with eight top-fives in the last nine races. Hamilton has two wins in his last three Singapore starts, which came in 2017 and 2018.

Rounding out the top five is Hamilton’s teammate George Russell at +1800. He has not won, but has shown remarkable consistency with top-fives in all but one race. Notably, his only bad finish came in his home GP in England. Russell has one previous start at Marina Bay; he finished last in the 2019 race. He finished fourth in 2019 as part of a four-race streak of top-fives.

The most recent Singapore GP winner from 2019, Sebastian Vettel is a longshot at +50000.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner, and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.

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