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David Malsher-Lopez

Rosenqvist after IMS pole: “I’ll have a good job somewhere”

Last month, it was confirmed that this, the Swede’s second season with Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet, would not be his last at McLaren Racing, but with Pato O’Ward and Alexander Rossi already confirmed in AMSP’s IndyCar three-car line-up for 2023, speculation mounted that Rosenqvist would be sent to the squad’s new Formula E team. This prognostication looked more valid still when McLaren announced it had signed defending IndyCar champion Alex Palou.

However, after the Toronto race, in which he finished a fighting third and outpaced Pato O’Ward all weekend, Rosenqvist said that he hoped he had made McLaren CEO Zak Brown’s decisions over 2023 that much harder, and he has frequently said this year that he intends to stay in IndyCar.

This afternoon, Rosenqvist scored his second pole for AMSP, the third of his career – at the same venue in which he scored his first – and trounced the opposition.

“Naturally, because we're doing well and I really enjoy my place in the team and just happy in general, it would be weird to not want to go back,” he said. “Obviously it's not that straightforward, so we're going to have to see what's going to happen…

“IndyCar, I think it's kind of addicting in a way. Like it's very tough… The driver level is high everywhere in professional championships, but it's just such a team effort to get everything right on the day in terms of setup, pit stop strategy. The driver has to be fit, he has to be focused. There's just so many variables, and if you lose one second in a pit sequence, you're gone. That's your day gone.

“When you succeed and when you win a race or get a podium or whatever, it's just something you want to do again because it's very rewarding when you do well, but it can also be brutal when you're struggling, as I did last year. It was a super tough season for sure.

“But yeah, I'm doing well, and I want to continue that, so hopefully I'll stay.”

Rosenqvist’s time in the Firestone Fast Six was 0.2765sec faster than his nearest rival Rossi in the Andretti Autosport-Honda, and 0.38sec quicker than teammate O’Ward. Key to this substantial pace advantage was nailing his flying laps in the Q1 and Q2 segments in just a single attempt, keeping his used Firestone ‘reds’ as fresh as possible for the final run.

“I think the whole team has just done a really good prep work for this race,” he said. “We tested here a month ago, which I think really helped. We kind of got here with a good starting package, so we knew that this was going to be one that we had to really extract everything in qualifying.

“But yeah, it was really cool. We did only one lap in Q1, saved those tires for the Fast Six, and everything just worked out to plan.

“Man, it's rare to have those days, but I think today was just a day about execution, and now eyes forward to tomorrow.”

As he has explained in the past, Rosenqvist said that AMSP’s generic setups had moved away from the extreme ‘pointy’ handling that so suited O’Ward in 2021 but often left Rosenqvist struggling, and the AMSP team as a whole suffering high tire degradation on race days.

“I think the car is just suited more towards me this year, so I feel like I can maximize it pretty much everywhere we go now, so yeah, that's a good thing.”

But he then added that the team have been more “experimental” in terms of setups, with he and his race engineer since last August, Craig Hampson [on right above, with Felix and strategist Billy Vincent], being on the cutting edge of those investigative ventures.

“We as a team have, from an engineering standpoint, been pretty – I wouldn't say wildly all over the place, but we've been very experimental the last two years, especially on my car. Pretty much every weekend where we go somewhere, Craig is calling me on Monday, like ‘Hey, are you open to try something different?’, and I'm like, ‘Yeah’…

“I think Pato in general is more inclined to run kind of what we ran last year with a little evolution, and I've been trying more like new philosophies of setup. Surprisingly it's not often you do like a big change and it works, but almost everywhere we've gone, like me and Craig and the guys at the #7 car have kind of been able to develop something new that works, and I think suits me better, as well.

“But it's almost been that way everywhere. Sometimes Pato's package works better, like at Iowa, for example. Like [Race 1] his car was probably a little bit better than mine, and then [Race 2] I went to his car, and it's been good like that. You kind of have to do that as a two-car team.”

Rosenqvist, who won at Road America for Ganassi in 2020 but is still seeking his second win, praised the AMSP engineering line-up in general, and name-checked Gavin Ward, Josef Newgarden’s former race engineer who departed Penske last winter but wasn’t allowed to start working with for his new employers until Mid-Ohio.

“At this point I feel like we gather so much info that we can be a bit more sure where we want to start, and also with Gavin coming along, I think that's kind of his role – to kind of have a little overview of the whole situation with both cars and just lead us in the best direction for me and Pato…

“We have a really good engineering crew. Like they're really clever people. We have a lot of fun in that truck. There's a lot of laughing and jokes and stuff going around, but then when it's time to switch on, I feel like everyone is like laser sharp. I'm really enjoying the working environment right now.”

Rosenqvist added that he appreciated O’Ward’s efforts to keep him as his AMSP teammate for 2023, and the support he has felt from elsewhere in the paddock.

“It means a lot to hear that,” said Rosenqvist. “I would obviously say the same for him. I think we have a very strong working relationship right now on and off the track. It's kind of rare that you have a teammate that you don't really try to hide anything, and I think that's the best possible situation for the team because… the more negative competition it is between the teammates, the worse for the team… I feel like we have just full transparency between the two cars, between me and Pato.

“Today when he was struggling we'll talk about it, like hey, maybe try this, try that. It's just great, and we have a good time out of the track, as well, when we're here in Indy. We always play mini golf or pickleball or just go for dinner.

“I think even for other drivers and team owners reaching out and showing support and kind of saying that they want me to stay in the series, I think it means a lot. I'm really thankful for all those comments – and hopefully that'll be the case.”


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