Felix Rosenqvist appeared on course for a memorable recovery drive in the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES finale at St. Petersburg on Sunday, although the Chip Ganassi Racing Swede was ultimately left with little reason to celebrate in the Florida showdown.
Rosenqvist’s chances were dealt a major blow already in qualifying, where – after going second fastest in the group stages – he picked up a penalty for impeding Spain’s Alex Palou; demoting him to 22nd on the grid.
“Unfortunately we got penalized because we blocked Palou,” says Felix Rosenqvist. “Our software said he was on an out-lap, but apparently he wasn’t. Obviously, we trust the software that INDYCAR provides us, but it showed us the wrong thing and we paid the price for it.”
From his less-than-ideal grid slot on the penultimate row, Rosenqvist had his work cut out to try and make progress within the tight confines of the St. Pete street track in the final race of the campaign.
A clash with Santino Ferrucci did little to help matters, forcing Rosenqvist into an unscheduled pit stop with damage on lap 33 of 100.
Rejoining the race one lap down on the leaders, Rosenqvist was then able to gel a combination of factors – including a swift pit stop, a crucial overtake on Colton Herta, and strategic luck – to stage a strong recovery.
Battling his way back up to P8, Rosenqvist found himself poised for a strong result as the race entered its final stages. However, a coming-together with fellow Swede and Chip Ganassi Racing team-mate Marcus Ericsson inflicted fresh damage on Rosenqvist’s car, necessitating a final pit stop for repairs.
Rosenqvist was able to rejoin, albeit two laps down, and was eventually classified 18th.
“This was a race in which we consistently had to battle back from hardship,” Felix Rosenqvist says. “Having been lapped, it was almost a miracle to find us in P8 just behind the leading group. I was running just in front of Marcus when, unfortunately, we made contact a few laps from home. I gave him all the room I could. It was a shame our race was pretty much over from there.”
Felix Rosenqvist ends up 11th in the overall NTT INDYCAR SERIES standings, having scored a maiden breakthrough win and two fastest laps in his second season in the championship.
“The highlight this year was obviously the victory at Road America,” Felix Rosenqvist concludes. “I also take away an improved feeling on the ovals. All in all, however, I can’t be very pleased with this season to be honest, but you learn from every experience in life. I want to thank my team, the #10 NTT DATA crew, and my fans and followers for their support. It does mean a lot.”
The 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES title was won in Florida by Scott Dixon.
NTT INDYCAR SERIES | Rd. 14
Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
1: Josef Newgarden (USA), Penske, 100 laps
2: Pato O’Ward (MEX), McLaren SP, +4.140s
3: Scott Dixon (NZL), Ganassi, +6.156s
4: Sebastien Bourdais (FRA), Foyt, +7.413s
5: Ryan Hunter-Reay (USA), Andretti, +9.752s
18: Felix Rosenqvist (SWE), Ganassi, +2 laps
NTT INDYCAR SERIES | After 14/14 races
1: Scott Dixon (NZL), Ganassi, 537 p.
2: Josef Newgarden (USA), Penske, 521 p.
3: Colton Herta (USA), Andretti, 421 p.
4: Pato O’Ward (MEX), McLaren SP, 416 p.
5: Will Power (AUS), Penske, 396 p.
11: Felix Rosenqvist (SWE), Ganassi, 306 p.