Felix Rosenqvist‘s entry into the 2023 NTT IndyCar Series Children’s of Alabama Indy Grand Prix got off to a regrettable start when the Swedish driver spun from eighth place to 23rd on the first lap of the race.
Rosenqivst lost control of his Arrow McLaren machine after making contact with Josef Newgarden in the opening sequence of corners, tapping his left-front into Newgarden’s right-rear and dropping from eighth to 23rd in a matter of seconds. Fortunately, the No. 6 machine escaped serious damage and carried on, albeit at the tail end of the field.
Rosenqvist was candid about the initial contact with Newgarden after the race.
“I was just braking too late into turn 2, so that was on me,” he told NBC. “It’s tight, it’s small margins but I hope I didn’t damage him or anything. I don’t know, he seemed to fall off a bit at the end of the race, but I don’t know if that’s why … that wasn’t intentional. Obviously it screwed us in the beginning, we came out in last.”
Rosenqvist and the Arrow McLaren team adopted a three-stop strategy, placing them in the company of eventual winner Scott McLaughlin and third-place finisher Will Power. The option to take an extra pit stop afforded Rosenqvist and company the opportunity to run flat out throughout the afternoon, whereas some drivers – including one-time winner-apparent Romain Grosjean – had to save fuel and consequently sacrificed some pace in the name of making it to the checkered flag.
Rosenqvist made his first pit stop on lap 13 after starting on the softer but faster-wearing alternate tires. The Arrow McLaren team exchanged his worn alternates for a set of fresh primary tires; the black-walled boots which prioritize longevity at the price of pace.
“I had a really fun first two stints, passing a lot of cars, a lot of clear air,” Rosenqivst recalled. “We actually were really back in the game after stint two. It was fun – I think that last caution kind of screwed us a little bit, it could have been a top five without that, maybe, because the two-stoppers really struggled. But yeah, really, really quick car today. It felt really good out there; what could have been, maybe, but I’m happy with the recovery.”
Rosenqvist was then free to push as hard as he’d like until his next stop, which came on lap 38, having carved his way to the top 5 by that point. Rosenqvist, McLaughlin, Power and Alexander Rossi took advantage of the yellow…
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