Felix Rosenqvist addresses impact of Palou dispute on his future with IndyCar, McLaren


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.

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.”

Hunter Lawrence defends Haiden Deegan after controversial block pass at Detroit


Media and fan attention focused on a controversial run-in between Haiden Deegan and his Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing teammate Jordon Smith during Round 10 of the Monster Energy Supercross race at Detroit, after which the 250 East points’ Hunter Lawrence defends the young rider in the postrace news conference.

Deegan took the early lead in Heat 1 of the round, but the mood swiftly changed when he became embroiled in a spirited battle with teammate Smith.

On Lap 3, Smith caught Deegan with a fast pass through the whoops. Smith briefly held the lead heading into a bowl turn but Deegan had the inside line and threw a block pass. In the next few turns, the action heated up until Smith eventually ran into the back of Deegan’s Yamaha and crashed.

One of the highlights of the battle seemed to include a moment when Deegan waited on Smith in order to throw a second block pass, adding fuel to the controversy.

After his initial crash, Smith fell to seventh on the next lap. He would crash twice more during the event, ultimately finishing four laps off the pace in 20th.

The topic was inevitably part of the postrace news conference.

“It was good racing; it was fun,” Deegan said at about the 27-minute mark in the video above. “I just had some fun doing it.”

Smith had more trouble in the Last Chance Qualifier. He stalled his bike in heavy traffic, worked his way into a battle for fourth with the checkers in sight, but crashed a few yards shy of the finish line and was credited with seventh. Smith earned zero points and fell to sixth in the standings.

Lawrence defends Deegan
Jordon Smith failed to make the Detroit Supercross Main and fell to sixth in the points. – Feld Motor Sports

“I think he’s like fifth in points,” Deegan said. “He’s a little out of it. Beside that it was good, I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention.”

Deegan jokingly deflected an earlier question with the response that he wasn’t paying attention during the incident.

“He’s my teammate, but he’s a veteran, he’s been in this sport for a while,” Deegan said. “I was up there just battling. I want to win as much as everybody else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heat race or a main; I just want to win. I was just trying to push that.”

As Deegan and Smith battled, Jeremy Martin took the lead. Deegan finished second in the heat and backed up his performance with a solid third-place showing in the main, which was his second podium finish in a short six-race career. Deegan’s first podium was earned at Daytona, just two rounds ago.

But as Deegan struggled to find something meaningful to say, unsurprisingly for a 17-year-old rider who was not scheduled to run the full 250 schedule this year, it was the championship leader Lawrence who came to his defense.

Lawrence defends Deegan
A block pass by Haiden Deegan led to a series of events that eventually led to Jordon Smith failing to make the Main. – Feld Motor Sports

“I just want to point something out, which kind of amazes me,” Lawrence said during the conference. “So many of the people on social media, where everyone puts their expertise in, are saying the racing back in the ’80s, the early 90s, when me were men. They’re always talking about how gnarly it was and then anytime a block pass or something happens now, everyone cries about it.

“That’s just a little bit interesting. Pick one. You want the gnarly block passes from 10 years ago and then you get it, everyone makes a big song and dance about it.”

Pressed further, Lawrence defended not only the pass but the decision-making process that gets employed lap after lap in a Supercross race.

“It’s easy to point the finger,” Lawrence said. “We’re out there making decisions in a split millisecond. People have all month to pay their phone bill and they still can’t do that on time.

“We’re making decisions at such a fast reaction [time with] adrenaline. … I’m not just saying it for me or Haiden. I speak for all the guys. No one is perfect and we’re under a microscope out there. The media is really quick to point a finger when someone makes a mistake.”

The media is required to hold athletes accountable for their actions. They are also required to tell the complete story.