Felix Rosenqvist survived a remarkably hectic and incident-strewn race to come home sixth in Saturday’s GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, battling his way back from a lap down to end on a high in viciously treacherous conditions.
In a race that featured too many twists and turns to tell, Rosenqvist eventually sealed his best result of the season so far, finishing in the same place he started – although the road leading him there could not have been less straightforward.
Rosenqvist held virtually every position in the field across two hours of drama in changeable conditions, going through a wide span of emotion as his 50th NTT INDYCAR SERIES race coincided with arguably the most chaotic of his career.
“I really don’t know how that all happened,” says Felix Rosenqvist. “It was a crazy race. We were on the wrong tyres, then we were on the right tyres, we were last, we were first… It simply had everything. The target today was to finish where we started, or better, and we did – but it was a long and winding road!”
It all started off well on a wet track, with Rosenqvist jostling for the lead in the first half of the race, having immediately shot up to second on the first lap alone from sixth on the grid.
“It started off perfectly, going up to second on the first lap in the wet,” Felix Rosenqvist continues. “We also managed to go a lap longer than the others on fuel before the first pit stop, which was really good to see given what happened at Barber.”
The Swede was in proper victory contention when, on lap 43, the race restarted following one of countless incidents as the rain intensified.
As the packed field negotiated Turn 1 at full speed, Arrow McLaren SP team-mate Pato O’Ward lost control in the slippery conditions and spun, with Rosenqvist getting caught up in the commotion, losing his front wing, and falling a lap down.
An inspired call to stay out on slicks in the wet, however, allied with a powerful display of overtakes in the final stint of the race, eventually saw Rosenqvist come home an unlikely P6.
“The incident with Pato was just such an unfortunate situation,” Rosenqvist explains. “He spun just in front of me and I had nowhere to go. We collided, I lost my front wing, and the car stalled. After that, we were a lap down, but the team made a great call to keep me out on slicks in the rain – without a front wing! – and that allowed us to get back onto the lead lap.
“After the final restart, we were flying again in the wet, and I went from 18th to sixth in the last ten laps. We had a fantastic car today in all conditions, and we had the pace to win this race. Operationally it was perfectly executed by everyone on the #7 car, and I’m really proud of how we kept being positive throughout, even when it seemed dark.”
The NTT INDYCAR SERIES fraternity now move straight into Indy 500 mode, with practice for “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” commencing in the coming week. The race itself – the largest sporting event in the world – takes place on May 29.
NTT INDYCAR SERIES | Rd. 5
GMR Grand Prix
Indianapolis Motor Speedway (USA)
1: Colton Herta (USA), Andretti, 75 laps
2: Simon Pagenaud (FRA), Meyer Shank, +3.098s
3: Will Power (AUS), Penske, +7.153s
4: Marcus Ericsson (SWE), Ganassi, +7.819s
5: Conor Daly (USA), Ed Carpenter, +9.653s
6: Felix Rosenqvist (SWE), Arrow McLaren SP, +11.094s
NTT INDYCAR SERIES | After 5/17 races
1: Will Power (AUS), Penske, 170 p.
2: Alex Palou (ESP), Ganassi, 156 p.
3: Scott McLaughlin (NZL), Penske, 152 p.
4: Josef Newgarden (USA), Penske, 140 p.
5: Scott Dixon (NZL), Ganassi, 133 p.
14: Felix Rosenqvist (SWE), Arrow McLaren SP, 85 p.