Five months on from the curtain-raiser in Alabama, an intense 16-round NTT INDYCAR SERIES campaign comes to an end this weekend on the streets of Long Beach – and for Felix Rosenqvist, eyes are peeled two ways.
Following a difficult season, Rosenqvist finally appeared to be heading the right way with a strong showing (including the fastest lap of the event) at the Grand Prix of Portland two weeks ago, only for the tide to turn yet again in a disappointing race at Laguna Seca last weekend.
Entering the Long Beach finale, however, Rosenqvist knows there are opportunities afresh along the famous street course on the outskirts of Los Angeles.
The Swede was on rapid pace around the two-mile track in INDYCAR’s latest visit in 2019, having just set the second-quickest lap of the weekend when a costly qualifying crash derailed a potential podium attack.
“It’s good to be going back to Long Beach, I really enjoy it there,” says Felix Rosenqvist. “We couldn’t race there last year due to the pandemic, which was a shame, but it’s one of those classic INDYCAR events. It’s a track that lends itself to an attacking style, which I found out a little too well in 2019, and you have to be on it all the time as the tarmac grips up with every lap.”
The Long Beach Grand Prix organisers are preparing to stage the INDYCAR title showdown for the first time in history this weekend, as the California race moves temporarily away from its traditional April slot in the wake of COVID-19.
One of three drivers still in with a shot at the 2021 title is Rosenqvist’s Arrow McLaren SP team-mate Pato O’Ward. The Mexican enters the finale sitting second in the standings, and won one of the earlier street races this year back in Detroit – a victory he dedicated to Rosenqvist as he recovered in hospital following a heavy accident the day before.
“I have a great relationship with Pato, and of course I’ll do what I can to help him this weekend,” Rosenqvist concludes. “We had a fast car in Detroit, which is a similar track to Long Beach, so hopefully we can convert that.
“I basically have two things I want to achieve this weekend. First, to help Pato and the team, and then I also really want to regain the feeling of Portland. We need that on the #7 car after Laguna Seca; the right energy to take us through the winter.”
The Long Beach INDYCAR finale gets underway with a 45-minute practice session on Friday. Qualifying takes place on Saturday, with the 85-lap race – the last of 2021 – going green at 12:45 pm local time on Sunday.
NTT INDYCAR SERIES | Rd. 16
Grand Prix of Long Beach
Long Beach (USA)
All times local – U.S. Pacific
Friday 24 September
Free Practice 1: 3:00-3:45 pm
Saturday 25 September
Free Practice 2: 09:00-09:45 am
Qualifying: 12:05-1:20 pm
Sunday 26 September
Warm-up: 9:00-9:30 am
Race (85 laps): 12:45 pm
NTT INDYCAR SERIES | After 15/16 races
1: Alex Palou (ESP), Ganassi, 517 p.
2: Pato O’Ward (MEX), AMSP, 482 p.
3: Josef Newgarden (USA), Penske, 469 p.
4: Scott Dixon (NZL), Ganassi, 445 p.
5: Marcus Ericsson (SWE), Ganassi, 430 p.
21: Felix Rosenqvist (SWE), AMSP, 188 p.
View full standings