Felix Rosenqvist endured a difficult start to the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES after getting entangled in a first-lap pile-up in Sunday’s season-opener at Barber Motorsports Park, Alabama.
Contesting his first race for new team Arrow McLaren SP, Rosenqvist found himself restricted to 22nd on the grid after spinning out in Saturday qualifying, and then managed just a third of a lap in the race before havoc erupted in an accident triggered by Penske’s Josef Newgarden.
Newgarden lost control of his car on the high-speed run into Turn 5, setting off a chain-reaction for the drivers behind – with Rosenqvist among those unable to avoid collision.
The Swede was sent airborne after tagging another car, and then struck the barriers before grinding to a halt. Rosenqvist was unharmed in the accident.
“This was a really poor start to the season,” says Felix Rosenqvist. “I was unsighted and had nowhere to go in the accident on lap one, but then again that’s the kind of thing bound to happen when you start so far back. At the end of the day, I made a costly mistake in qualifying and I’m sorry I couldn’t do a better job for the team this weekend.”
Despite significant damage, the Arrow McLaren SP mechanics impressively managed to repair the car in time for Rosenqvist to later rejoin the race, salvaging some small points and gathering valuable data.
Although the season-opener was largely disappointing for Rosenqvist, there were positives to take away, including a top five run in practice and a sense of raw potential (as demonstrated by team-mate Pato O’Ward powering to pole position) within the team.
“The car is fast, no doubt, but at the moment I’m not too comfortable with the way it drives,” says Felix Rosenqvist. “We need to keep working on the set-up to make it a bit more driveable for me, and once we find the sweet spot, I’m sure we will be up there. We are all optimistic and good to give it another go. I’m glad we will be back racing in just a few days.”
The INDYCAR field regroups next weekend (23-25 April) for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in Florida.
NTT INDYCAR SERIES | Rd. 1
Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama
Barber Motorsports Park (USA)
1: Alex Palou (ESP), Ganassi, 90 laps
2: Will Power (AUS), Penske, +0.401s
3: Scott Dixon (NZL), Ganassi, +2.988s
4: Pato O’Ward (MEX), McLaren SP, +3.974s
5: Sebastien Bourdais (FRA), Foyt, +10.696s
21: Felix Rosenqvist (SWE), McLaren SP, 62 laps
NTT INDYCAR SERIES | After 1/17 races
1: Alex Palou (ESP), Ganassi, 53 p.
2: Will Power (AUS), Penske, 41 p.
3: Scott Dixon (NZL), Ganassi, 35 p.
4: Pato O’Ward (MEX), McLaren SP, 34 p.
5: Sebastien Bourdais (FRA), Foyt, 31 p.
21: Felix Rosenqvist (SWE), McLaren SP, 9 p.