NTT INDYCAR SERIES
RD. 5 – INDYCAR GRAND PRIX (USA)
Felix Rosenqvist was unable to convert his maiden NTT IndyCar Series pole into a podium finish in the INDYCAR Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, but still picked up valuable points for eighth while once again taking rookie honours.
After leading the race for the opening 15 laps, Rosenqvist slipped back once the event got affected by a raft of caution periods and pit stop sequences.
The Swede’s NTT DATA Ganassi car briefly caught fire on two occasions while leaving pit lane as excess fuel ignited, with a hold-up behind Ed Carpenter Racing’s Ed Jones in the pits not helping matters.
A problematic stint on used Firestone red (soft) tyres further delayed Rosenqvist’s cause, but he ultimately recovered some of the lost ground during a final rain-affected stint to eventually come home in P8.
“It was a tough race, with a lot of things happening,” says Felix Rosenqvist. “It was a mix of bad timing on some things, we had some bad luck, and some errors here and there. I think the main point for us was that we were still having issues with degradation, mainly on the red tyres. We just dropped massively and we had to go short on the second stint on reds. That set us up badly for the rest of the race. I don’t know why it’s happening but it’s something we are looking into.”
Rosenqvist, who became the first Swedish driver since Kenny Bräck in 2002 to clinch an IndyCar pole position in qualifying on Friday, had initially appeared a real podium contender as he led team-mate Scott Dixon (NZL) in the opening stages of the race.
He clung on to finish as the best rookie, but was understandably left wishing for more.
“I feel like we should have had a much better result today,” Rosenqvist declares. “I did everything I could, but it didn’t work out. We came out toward the back on the wet tyres for the final stint and I think we managed to get four or five guys in the end and wound up P8. It was a good salvage of points and we did recover a lot. At the end of the day we can be happy with that, but overall I’m very disappointed and I feel like we gave away something, which was likely a podium today for the NTT DATA car.”
Simon Pagenaud (FRA) imitated Rosenqvist’s journey but in reverse, coming through from eighth on the grid to win for a third time at the Indianapolis road course. Dixon held on to second, with Jack Harvey (GBR) in third.
Coming up next for the NTT IndyCar Series fraternity is the esteemed Indy 500, which takes place on May 26 but features an extensive build-up period of practice and qualifying that kicks off already on Tuesday (May 14).
RESULTS (TOP FIVE)
INDYCAR Grand Prix | Indianapolis Road Course
1: Simon Pagenaud (FRA, Penske), 85 laps
2: Scott Dixon (NZL, Ganassi), +2.046s
3: Jack Harvey (GBR, Meyer/SPM), +3.768s
4: Matheus Leist (BRA, A.J. Foyt), +5.437s
5: Spencer Pigot (USA, ECR), +6.093s
8: Felix Rosenqvist (SWE, Ganassi), +8.708s
STANDINGS (TOP FIVE)
After 5/17 races
1: Josef Newgarden (USA, Penske), 182 p.
2: Scott Dixon (NZL, Ganassi), 176 p.
3: Alexander Rossi (USA, Andretti), 146 p.
4: Simon Pagenaud (FRA, Penske), 138 p.
5: Takuma Sato (JPN, RLL), 132 p.
11: Felix Rosenqvist (SWE, Ganassi), 106 p.