INDIANAPOLIS — The top ride available on the NTT INDYCAR Series Silly Season front is the one at Arrow McLaren SP. The organization will expand to a 3rd full time car for 2023 and have 2 drivers signed for them. Neither as of now is necessarily the incumbent Felix Rosenqvist.
At this moment, Pato O’Ward and Alexander Rossi are each the only 2 drivers under contract on the INDYCAR side for the next several years. O’Ward is signed through 2025 and Rossi on a multi-year deal beginning in 2023.
So why not Rosenqvist?
Well, he still technically could end up in his same seat but he also could end up in Formula E too on the teams’ new venture there.
On Thursday morning, it was unveiled that Rosenqvist would remain with McLaren Racing not only for 2023 but beyond too on a new multi-year contract. However, it also mentions that it could be in INDYCAR or it could be in FE too.
A statement read, “McLaren Racing is currently in the process of evaluating its driver line-ups for 2023 with the newly formed McLaren Formula E Team set to embark on its debut season in the all-electric racing series and plans to expand Arrow McLaren SP into a three-car team with Felix set to be driving in one of the two series.”
“I’m delighted to be continuing our relationship with Felix,” said Zak Brown. “He’s a fantastic racer, with a lot of experience in many different types of racing cars. As a proven race winner in both categories, it was important for us to secure his talent within the McLaren Racing family as we work to finalize our plans for 2023. His experience in Formula E would be invaluable as we head into this exciting new era of racing for McLaren Racing but he has also made a fantastic contribution to our IndyCar team. I look forward to working together with him to finalize the best opportunity for him next season.”
Rosenqvist’s racing career also includes a stint in Formula E, having raced in the series for three seasons from 2016 to 2019, winning three races, securing six pole positions and seven podiums.
Then he came to Chip Ganassi Racing for 2019 and 2020 and looked like a future star in the making. The thing is, with McLaren had an interest in him and Rosenqvist boldly moved from Ganassi to AMSP for 2021 on a year to year deal. He showed enough last season to get a 2nd shot for 2022. However, the pressure was on to perform to show the top brass enough to invite him back for a 3rd year in 2023.
Has it been enough?
“I’m delighted to be remaining with McLaren for 2023 and beyond,” Rosenqvist said. “With the team expanding into Formula E next season, it provides additional opportunities for me both in the USA and Europe and I look forward to being in a position to announce my plans in the coming weeks. I’ve loved my time with the Arrow McLaren SP Team in IndyCar driving the No. 7 car and we’ve had some great moments together, including securing pole earlier this year in Texas and coming home P4 in the Indy 500. I’m excited and grateful to be given this opportunity to explore the new options available to utilize my experience to help McLaren start 2023 on the strongest possible footing.”
Rosenqvist says that he never really was worried about getting a new deal with the organization and that the conversations were mainly positive discussions on his future especially with having better results lately too.
“You know for the foreseeable future that you’re set,” Rosenqvist told me about having less pressure now with a multi-year contract. “It’s always a good feeling but I’ve always felt it should be mixed. You shouldn’t be too comfortable either. It sounds weird to say but I think there should be pressure as well. It gets the best out of you.”
Rosenqvist also says that it’s good to not have to worry about 2024 when 2023 comes. That’s a blessing though too.
“It’s also good to know at least next year that I won’t be looking into what I’m going to do the year after,” he continued. “It’s always fun. It shows commitment from both sides and we both want to continue working with each other. We’re happy. The results have been good lately.”
But as far as staying here on the INDYCAR side? Is there a future here or does the future involve FE?
See, if it’s to remain here, then what more does he need to do? Is he being compared to O’Ward who has 3 wins, 6 podiums, 13 top 5’s and 15 top 10’s? That’s a tough driver to be compared too as he’s arguably the best young driver in the series today. He’s a hard one to stack up against.
If not that, then what else is it?
Since joining the series in 2019, when he was named Rookie of the Year, Rosenqvist has secured three podiums and two pole positions himself. He recently finished the 106th Running of the Indianapolis 500 in an impressive fourth place, and currently occupies a spot in the top-10 among a competitive drivers’ championship.
Rosenqvist has 3 straight top 10 finishes, 2 of which in the top 6 and qualified in the top 10 in 10 of the last 14 races including 7 of which in the top 6.
What more does he have to do and is time running out to do so?
“We always want more, right,” he told me on what he needs to do more of to stay here. “I don’t necessarily know what the team thinks but I know from a personal side I would want to win. I mean I’ve won races before, I’ve been on the podium multiple times but we haven’t had either of those this year. It would be unfair to say this is my best year ever because I don’t think that it is. I want to make it into my best year and I think that would probably certify.”
But in what he’s showing, yes he hasn’t won and yes he doesn’t have a podium, but he’s also getting closer and closer. The times he’s not had a top 10 or when he’s been in the top 10 and not finished further, a lot of times it’s come down to luck or strategy. Does he feel this is the best he’s driven so far in his brief INDYCAR career?
“Right now I’m driving the best I’ve done in INDYCAR for sure,” he told me. “But again, we want more. As a team we want more. As a driver I want more. We want to move up from top 10’s to a consistent top 5. We all know that we can’t do that every weekend. It’s already a good achievement and some times you have to score the big points as well and I think that’s kind of our next objective.”