Race Weekend Central

Felix Rosenqvist Rebounds From Early Spin for 9th at Barber

Felix Rosenqvist‘s entry into the 2023 NTT IndyCar Series Children’s of Alabama Indy Grand Prix got off to a regrettable start when the Swedish driver spun from eighth place to 23rd on the first lap of the race.

Rosenqivst lost control of his Arrow McLaren machine after making contact with Josef Newgarden in the opening sequence of corners, tapping his left-front into Newgarden’s right-rear and dropping from eighth to 23rd in a matter of seconds. Fortunately, the No. 6 machine escaped serious damage and carried on, albeit at the tail end of the field.

Rosenqvist was candid about the initial contact with Newgarden after the race.

“I was just braking too late into turn 2, so that was on me,” he told NBC. “It’s tight, it’s small margins but I hope I didn’t damage him or anything. I don’t know, he seemed to fall off a bit at the end of the race, but I don’t know if that’s why … that wasn’t intentional. Obviously it screwed us in the beginning, we came out in last.”

Rosenqvist and the Arrow McLaren team adopted a three-stop strategy, placing them in the company of eventual winner Scott McLaughlin and third-place finisher Will Power. The option to take an extra pit stop afforded Rosenqvist and company the opportunity to run flat out throughout the afternoon, whereas some drivers – including one-time winner-apparent Romain Grosjean – had to save fuel and consequently sacrificed some pace in the name of making it to the checkered flag.

Rosenqvist made his first pit stop on lap 13 after starting on the softer but faster-wearing alternate tires. The Arrow McLaren team exchanged his worn alternates for a set of fresh primary tires; the black-walled boots which prioritize longevity at the price of pace.

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Scott McLaughlin Out-Duels Romain Grosjean to Claim Victory in Alabama

“I had a really fun first two stints, passing a lot of cars, a lot of clear air,” Rosenqivst recalled. “We actually were really back in the game after stint two. It was fun – I think that last caution kind of screwed us a little bit, it could have been a top five without that, maybe, because the two-stoppers really struggled. But yeah, really, really quick car today. It felt really good out there; what could have been, maybe, but I’m happy with the recovery.”

Rosenqvist was then free to push as hard as he’d like until his next stop, which came on lap 38, having carved his way to the top 5 by that point. Rosenqvist, McLaughlin, Power and Alexander Rossi took advantage of the yellow flag triggered by a stranded Sting Ray Robb to grab a fresh set of primary tires before racing resumed on lap 42 with the Swede in 11th place. The final stop of the day for the No. 6 came on lap 66, pitting from second place along with then-leader Power, strapping on yet another fresh set of black tires to ensure he could push to the end.

“I think if what didn’t happen at lap one happened, we probably would have been on a two-stopper and… it wasn’t really the strategy,” Rosenqvist admitted, revealing that the first-lap incident threw a wrench in the team’s plans. “You have to be so flexible in IndyCar, and we made the most out of what happened and that’s what you have to do to keep it up in the standings.”

Rosenqvist was able rejoin the track slot himself into a comparatively relieving ninth-place finish. The only anxiety pressing the 2020 Road America winner was a looming Marcus Ericsson, who was unable to meaningfully challenge his compatriot. All-in-all, the result was certainly not what the team would have hoped for with Rosenqvist starting one spot better in eighth, but perfectly acceptable considering their driver ended the first lap in the mid-20s.

This is Rosenqvist’s career-best result at Barber and his second-best result of the year, following a seventh last time out in Long Beach.

Now, the series turns to the month of May, which will host the GMR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course and the 107th running of the Indianapolis 500. Rosenqvist has a best finish of fifth place on the Indy road course and came in ninth in his last appearance at the venue. Likewise, he netted a fourth place result during the 2022 Indy 500 after qualifying in eighth. Arrow McLaren is expected to be strong at Indianapolis, a fact which is not lost on Rosenqvist.

“For me I’m mainly focused on the [GMR] Grand Prix,” he said. “It’s a track where, as you say, we’ve been really strong. I had two poles there in the past, but have never really been able to execute the race and I think that’s still a question mark for us, to make the race work. Yeah, looking forward to getting back there … yeah, exciting times!”

Rosenqvist will start his month of May campaign at the GMR Grand Prix on Saturday, May 13, at 3:30 p.m. ET, with coverage on NBC.

About the author

Alex is the IndyCar Editor at Frontstretch, having initially joined as an entry-level contributor in 2021. He also Co-founded The Asia Cable, a publication focused on the international affairs and politics of the Asia-Pacific region, in 2023. With previous experience in China, Japan and Poland, Alex is particularly passionate about the international realm of motorsport and the politics that make the wheels turn - literally - behind the scenes.

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