Felix Rosenqvist trying to focus amidst McLaren contract drama

Chris Jones/Penske Entertainment

NASHVILLE – Felix Rosenqvist acknowledged that the recent Arrow McLaren Schmidt Peterson contract squabble has been detrimental to his team.

The 30-year-old Swede lies 8th in the NTT IndyCar Series standings with four races remaining on the calendar. His season is head and shoulders an improvement from 2021 where he ended up 21st with no podiums to his credit.

Last week’s Gallagher Grand Prix ended a disappointing ninth after taking the pole by a whopping three-tenths. He battled brake issues throughout the day in his No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet – which prompted a team meeting before this weekend’s Big Machine Music City Grand Prix.

“I think we didn’t do a great job in the race that weekend,” he said. “We had an issue with the brakes, they were dragging pretty much. Not the whole race, but from time to time they were dragging. I mean, I think it cost us the race pretty much. At least a podium would have been expected from that race the way it went. We were just like a sitting duck on the straights.

“We had a meeting. I think everyone obviously is a bit tired after these long stretches of races. A doubleheader in Iowa, then straight into Indy GP, straight here. People are obviously tired. We get that.

“We just had a meeting to go through like is there anything we can do, something we need to address. We have a good car. We want to keep getting those results this year. I think it was a good meeting. It wasn’t finger pointing or anything. It was getting the group together, talking about it. Like we haven’t done good enough in certain areas, we need to address them so we can get some podiums.”

Adding to the mechanical issues, the team’s recent inter-team contract drama has taken its toll.

Everything began on July 12 when defending series champion Alex Palou was announced to return to Chip Ganassi Racing for next season. Palou later tweeted that the story was incorrect and McLaren subsequently announced to drive for the team in 2023.

Chip Ganassi Racing has since filed suit against Palou’s management team to retain the Spaniard for 2023.

The situation has trickled down to Rosenqvist as he re-upped his contract in 2023 while the team didn’t specify which series he would race. Team principal Zak Brown said that Rosenqvist would move to Formula E if the team obtains another driver along with Pato O’Ward and Alexander Rossi.

The situation took a bizarre turn when RACER’s Marshall Pruett reported that Rosenqvist could explore other IndyCar options outside of McLaren. He elected to keep the situation under wraps during yesterday’s press conference.

“That’s between me and Zak to be honest,” he said. “I prefer not to talk about contracts. That’s why they’re contracts, because they’re made for you and the other signing party. It’s not for the public to know.”

Rosenqvist specified that the situation was on everyone’s mind during last week’s team meeting.

“I think it’s mainly distracting for the team, for the engineers, mechanics. They’re all asking questions. They’re part of this team as much as I am. Obviously, without the driver, it’s a big part of what makes their day. They want to know, are they going to continue with me next year? What’s going to happen?

“It’s not the optimal case. I think we’ve done a good job focusing. But as I say, we had a run of mechanical failures, a bit of slipups here and there. I’m sure these things don’t help. For now we got together a couple days ago at the shop, said, Let’s focus on the details here and try to use the performance we have right now to do some good finishes for the rest of the season, then everything else will pan out in time.”

Removed from the disappointment at Indianapolis, the Swede is having a solid season with seven top tens since May with only two DNFS – a mechanical issue at Mid-Ohio and a wreck at Iowa.

He found some light in the situation with the results and the good chemistry with veteran engineer Craig Hampson.

“As I say, we had a good run last couple of races,” he said. “I feel happy working with my engineer, my mechanics. Obviously, it’s another car coming to the team next year. I think it’s all depending on the Palou case what’s going to happen with me.

“But, yeah, that’s all I’m focused on right now. I’m just trying to win the race. I think we’ve been close a couple times here. Just focus on doing well, winning races. That’s pretty much all I can do.

“For the Formula E stuff, I mean, I think that’s kind of secondary at this point. Mainly just focusing on what I’m doing here now, try not to get distracted by what’s going on in the background.”

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