Felix Rosenqvist still isn’t sure which series he will race next year, and he isn’t sure whether his IndyCar status will be affected by the Alex Palou contract dispute.
Having already signed with McLaren Racing on a multiyear extension, Rosenqvist is waiting on CEO Zak Brown to decide whether he will return to the NTT IndyCar Series next season or move to McLaren’s new Formula E program.
With McLaren having announced the signing of Palou for 2023 (without naming a series for the 2021 IndyCar champion) shortly after Chip Ganassi Racing also laid claim to Palou’s services next year, the situation seems even murkier, but Rosenqvist still is optimistic about remaining in IndyCar.
“I don’t know what’s going on there,” Rosenqvist said about Palou’s situation after a season-best third place in the Honda Indy Toronto. “At the moment it doesn’t sound like (Palou is) going to race at all. Yeah, it’s up to lawyers and stuff.
“Honestly it’s not my business at all. I think honestly it hasn’t really changed anything. This whole deal went down months ago. I didn’t know all the details of it that I do now, but nothing has actually changed. I think if Zak was sure I was going to FE, he would have already said it. I’m going to take that chance. If there’s a chance for me to be here next year, I’m going to try to prove I can do that.”
The primary method would be on-track results, and Rosenqvist has been performing since his new deal was announced June 23. The Swede qualified fourth at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course but completed only eight laps in the July 3 race because of an engine failure.
Sunday in Toronto, he started eighth and finished third – his first podium since his first IndyCar victory July 12, 2020 at Road America while he was with Ganassi.
In a postrace interview with NBC Sports’ Dave Burns (video above), Rosenqvist said “this weekend hopefully makes Zak doubt some things,” but he demurred when asked to elaborate later on if he could stay in IndyCar — even if not in one of the three full-time seats at McLaren (which claims to have four current IndyCar drivers under contract for 2023: Pato O’Ward, Rosenqvist, Palou and Alexander Rossi).
“That’s entirely a question for Zak,” Rosenqvist said. “I’ve made my point that I’m very happy with the team. I think it shows, a super group. I think we worked hard the last two years to kind of build up a very strong team. We have good strategy, good pit stops. I think I’m able to extract most out of the car most weekends now.
“I think if you asked me end of last year, obviously it would have been a different answer. But right now I’m just very happy where I’m at. I think I would be crazy if I said I wanted to go somewhere else. You always have to be thankful for every opportunity you have. Sort of like an endgame series in motorsports, if it’s in Europe, or here or Japan or whatever, it’s a few drivers in the world that get to do that.
“I want to be where I’m at right now. Yeah, I think Arrow McLaren SP has pretty much become a home for me. Yeah, it’s up to Zak. He’s the man who is making the moves. It’s probably going to take a couple weeks before we know more. Hopefully today changed something. My ambition is to keep proving it that way.”
Rosenqvist said the podium was “massively overdue” after having many results go awry because of circumstances or mechanical problems. He started from the pole position in the March 20 race at Texas Motor Speedway but suffered a halfshaft failure.
“We had so many good races,” Rosenqvist said. “Even last year when we had such a struggle year, we still had times where we were fighting for wins. Just things end up happening.
“Mid-Ohio was pretty much a perfect race until we had a technical failure that ended our race. Texas earlier this year. Just so many races. Obviously I don’t like to say what could have happened. I think everyone on the team was ready for at least a podium, and also a win coming up here soon hopefully. Really good just for the guys on the car to give them something more than P4 or P5.”
Rosenqvist overcame some adversity at Toronto, too, emerging unscathed from a Turn 3 tangle with Rossi (who announced a multiyear deal last month with McLaren’s IndyCar team for next year) that caused a Lap 45 caution.
Future McLaren driver Alexander Rossi and current McLaren driver Felix Rosenqvist make contact, and Rossi hits the wall! #INDYCAR
— INDYCAR on NBC (@IndyCaronNBC) July 17, 2022
Rosenqvist was on the inside line with his No. 5 Dallara-Chevrolet alongside Rossi’s No. 27 Dallara-Honda when their wheels touched. Rossi hit the outside wall and was eliminated in 23rd.
“He looked a bit weak in the braking on 3,” Rosenqvist said. “I did kind of a little surprise move. Was fairly far up by the time we turned in. I kind of thought that he had already given up on the corner. I just saw him hang around the outside. I was like, ‘OK, I mean, fair play if you want to try to go around outside. At some point you run out of road.’ I think he probably bumped his wheel or something. That’s kind of what it felt like. He ran into my side pod, probably lost a wheel and hit the wall.
“I don’t know if it was fair play, to be honest. He normally races hard. I’ve been racing him previously where it’s been to his advantage in that situation, and I’ve lost a bunch of spots. Today he lost his race. Obviously, I don’t want to see him in the wall, but it was just a hard pass, hard racing. There wasn’t a penalty, so I think that kind of explains everything.”