By: Ashley McCubbin
After strong sophomore campaign in the NTT IndyCar Series with his first career victory, Felix Rosenqvist will join Arrow McLaren SP for the upcoming season. The Swede recently took some time with NEWS FROM THE PITS to talk about 2021 and more.
ASHLEY MCCUBBIN: What are your thoughts entering this season?
FELIX ROSENQVIST: It’s defiantly a season I’m looking forward to. I feel probably way more motivated than ever to get back into the car. It’s been kind of a short off-season in comparison to what it’s normally like in IndyCar, but I feel we’re all ready to get going again. Being apart of Arrow McLaren SP is a real boost, and I feel very motivated working with this team and so much excitement with the team to get going again.
It’s my third year in IndyCar, so I feel I’m getting to the point that I can do some really good things. I already have a race win, couple podiums, so I feel it’ll be a really good year for me.
ASHLEY: How has it been for you adjusting to Arrow McLaren SP?
FELIX: It’s been really easy to be honest. I’m normally based in Indianapolis during these months and the team is based in Indianapolis so it’s been really easy to drive down to the shop and talk to the guys. I feel I’ve really got to know everyone that I am going to work with well over the last months I came here for the fourth of January early to just make sure I get to know everyone. All of the preparations have gone well with the team in getting ready.
Kind of been fighting a hand injury since last season, so that’s been the priority to get the hand injury sorted and the last two weeks, there’s been an improvement in that. We’re testing at Sebring on Monday so overall, excited to get some real laps in a real car.
ASHLEY: You got a new teammate this year in Pato O’Ward. How do you see things meshing well together with both of you working together?
FELIX: I see it’s a perfect match – me and Pato. I always preferred to have a teammate that you can have fun with, joke around with, and he’s also fast very and that’s the main thing. You always want the teammate to able to push yourself and drag out any weakness you have and work on it – and I’m sure Pato will be able to do that, and I can do that with him as well. He’s certainly younger than me, but I’m also not very old, either.
I think we’ll complement each other well and have gotten to know each other really well over these past couple months. We’ve been working together over these past few months – very fun guy to be around, a lot of energy, very social which is super cool.
ASHLEY: What track are you most excited for?
FELIX: I’d say St. Pete is always a favorite. Going back to Toronto is probably going to be the highlight. We only did St. Pete out of the street tracks last year, so going back to street tracks is going to be my favorite part of the season. Also, Nashville has a potential to a new favorite. That event has been really hyped and for good reason. It’s a cool city to go to and the track looks very spectacular, and I like street tracks, so that one has a good potential.
But overall, the calendar is very good this year. It certainly matches my preference really well and I don’t really see any weakness on the calendar, personally speaking.
ASHLEY: Last year, you knocked the money off the back with your first career series victory. What did that mean to you?
FELIX: It meant a lot. Whenever I race, I want to win races and fortunately I have been able to do, but IndyCar was tough. It was a tough victory to get. I only had two, three second-places before that and a lot of races I felt the victory was mine but it ended up something happened, or a strategy call went wrong. Finally getting it – an IndyCar victory is not easy to get. You have to have everything go right on the day, a good strategy, and it seems you need to have a little luck as well.
But yeah, that was a great feeling definitely. Amongst the best moments of my career to the get victory done and we certainly look for more this year. I think we’re certainly in a position to win more races with Arrow McLaren SP now.
ASHLEY: Entering the third year in the sport as you mentioned, what do you feel you need to do to improve as a driver moving forward?
FELIX: I think looking back at specifically last year, that was a low point for me – even with having the victory. It was not a season I was very happy with. I say the ovals have definitely been a point I need to improve, where I felt there was some improvement last year, but there’s still some stuff going on, like at Texas when I was running second and hit the wall with 10 laps to go. I think finishing the races. IndyCar is not a series where you can afford to not finish two or three races; then you’re pretty much done in the title race and that’s what happened to me last year. We had some good results, but there were just too many races we didn’t finish.
I think that’s the main focus – keep improving on the ovals, which I think I have a good chance to do with Arrow McLaren SP as they have a good track record on ovals, but then again, finishing the races is going to be the key point in the long run.
ASHLEY: Outside of IndyCar, is there another series or car in motorsports that’s on your bucket list?
FELIX: Well, I’ve been lucky almost to do anything on four wheels, but I mean to try a Formula 1 is a goal of mine. I wouldn’t say necessarily racing a Formula 1 is everyone’s dream coming from my growing up, but I’m happy where I’m at. I want to win the IndyCar Championship and the Indy 500 – that’s my focus, but trying an F1 car would sort of complete something for me for sure.
ASHLEY: What would be one piece of advice that you’d offer for someone getting started?
FELIX: It’s a tough sport, for sure. It’s not for everyone. It takes a lot of dedication a lot of time, a lot of focus, and a lot of family support. You can do it alone but it’s very rare. You need to have the people around you to give you all the support you need, but I think when you’re young, it’s just important to follow your instinct and follow your confidence and not listen to too much to what other people have to say. The drive has to be from yourself, not from others.