NASHVILLE, Tenn — Felix Rosenqvist is surging. We’ve talked to him more over the past 7 or 8 days than we have in a long time. Between the pole last Friday afternoon at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, to a zoom call on Tuesday to being 2nd quickest in practice on the streets of Nashville this Friday which led him to the Nissan Stadium press conference room, the Swedish driver is having to do a lot of facing the press lately.
That’s a byproduct of running well. The better you run, the more you’re in front of cameras. The problem is, we’re not asking him a lot of questions for his on track performances though. Nothing against Rosenqvist, but his main storyline is all geared towards his future. Until that’s on solid ground, the questions are going to keep being asked.
He knows that and is well aware of the nature of the beast.
“I mean, obviously it’s always complicated, right? Half of these things doesn’t concern me at all. You read stuff. You also don’t know what’s true or not,” Rosenqvist admitted on Friday after turning the days’ 2nd fastest practice lap around the 2.1-mile street course. “There’s obviously a lot of rumors, people that think they know what’s going on. What’s actually the truth, that’s only the people involved that knows.
“Is it very different? Yes. Like we never seen a case like this that’s going on right now. Yeah, at least you guys get something to write about (smiling). That’s a good thing in the end.
“As I say, as long as it’s not distracting us too much, I think we’re good. I’m just going to focus on what concerns me, and the rest is kind of pointless, to be honest, for me.”
The problem is, it is doing just that – distracting them. Rosenqvist admitted that it’s hard not to. This does in an indirect way affect him. It affects his team. His boss, Zak Brown, is making a lot of hostile noise in the motorsports world by signing drivers who may or may not be already signed to other teams and where those drivers are housed if they indeed end up being McLaren drivers affects where Rosenqvist is.
That’s why the noise is so loud. He’s just doing so well he’s the McLaren driver available to be in front of the media so everyone wants to know and get an insight of what’s going on internally there.
“Yeah, I think it’s mainly distracting for the team, for the engineers, mechanics. They’re all asking questions,” he said. “They’re part of this team as much as I am. Obviously without the driver, it’s a big part of what makes their day. They want to know, are they going to continue with me next year? What’s going to happen?
“It’s not the optimal case. I think we’ve done a good job focusing. But as I say, we had a run of mechanical failures, a bit of slipups here and there. I’m sure these things doesn’t help.
“Yeah, it’s not optimal. I think I’m always for negotiating or doing deals here and there. The thing I think is that’s for the off-season, not the season. Obviously this whole thing has opened very early in the year. I think it’s not optimal for our team. I think it affects people in the organization. It’s not good.
“During the week there’s a lot of talks. It’s not optimal. I’m sitting here instead of being in my engineering room. I’m talking about Formula 1 stuff. I think that’s where it’s not optimal.
“For now we got together a couple days ago at the shop, said, Let’s focus on the details here and try to use the performance we have right now to do some good finishes for the rest of the season, then everything else will pan out in time.
“But, yeah, I mean, you just have to jump in the car and put on your helmet and forget about it. End of the day, it’s simple as that. I just drive the car. That’s what I have to do better than ever before right now.”
Last week they had a brake problem that if you now see what he’s saying, it could have been someone lost focus and made a rare mistake because of all the distractions going around. It’s happened too much but who could blame them? It’s all that’s being discussed and no one knows the clear path yet to which direction this is going to end up.
We know Alexander Rossi and Pato O’Ward will drive 2 of the 3 AMSP cars next year. We know Lando Norris will be in 1 of the 2 F1 seats for them. There’s 2 more Formula E cars available.
Between the 3 series’ that’s 4 seats open.
Rosenqvist may or may not be signed with McLaren. The June deal may not be a deal in the first place. RACER is reporting Rosenqvist doesn’t have a signed contract with McLaren like initially thought.
So who’s in the 7 ride here? Who’s in the 2nd McLaren F1 seat? If all goes to McLaren’s plan, Oscar Piastri and Alex Palou will be signed to them. That’s two more drivers in a crowded room but where do each land and where does that leave Rosenqvist?
He doesn’t want to end up in Formula E so is he allowed to look elsewhere?
“That we will see,” he says. “That’s between me and Zak to be honest. I prefer not to talk about contracts. That’s why they’re contracts, because they’re made for you and the other signing party. It’s not for the public to know.”
He wants his driving to do his talking but that’s unfortunately not going to solidify his future in the NTT INDYCAR Series. The court saga with Alex Palou will.
“I think I’m mainly focused on staying with my current team, AMSP,” Rosenqvist admitted on Friday from Nashville, the site of this weekend’s 15th round of the NTT INDYCAR Series season. “As I say, we had a good run last couple of races. I feel happy working with my engineer, my mechanics. Obviously it’s another car coming to the team next year. I think it’s all depending on the Palou case what’s going to happen with me.”
Rosenqvist says that he’s just focused on himself though and just trying to win races. He’s been close a few times but the opportunities keep slipping away.
He said in a zoom call earlier this week that it didn’t matter if he won a race or not as that’s not what’s going to dictate his future with this team. He’s done a good enough job already of showing them what he’s about. It’s just down to what happens to Palou and Ganassi.
At one point though, it was looking like he was destined to an Formula E ride with McLaren.
A statement read this past June, “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.”
Zak Brown had similar language.
“I’m delighted to be continuing our relationship with Felix,” said 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.
“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.”
That wording made it seem that Rosenqvist’s destination would likely land in Formula E.
However, that may have all changed. In fact, it may have done a complete 180.
“For the Formula E stuff, I mean, I think that’s kind of secondary at this point,” Rosenqvist admitted. “Mainly just focusing on what I’m doing here now, try not to get distracted by what’s going on in the background.”
Now it’s just down to doing what he can do best with an unknown future.