With just over a week to go until the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series opener in St. Petersburg, Florida, championship rookie Felix Rosenqvist takes some time out to reflect on the lessons learned in pre-season testing.
Q: How would you sum up the pre-season period?
Felix Rosenqvist: I honestly think it’s been better than I could have expected, really. I experienced a few small issues in the final two tests before the new year, but we made some adjustments in the cockpit and once I got back after a well-needed winter break, it all came together in the test at Laguna Seca. Since then, it’s all been very smooth. It’s a lot to learn in terms of race management etcetera and I’m sure that will take a few races, but when it comes to just driving the car fast, I have a very good feeling.
Have you managed to identify any particular strengths or weaknesses?
My strength – and my weakness – is braking. That’s often where I find some time compared to others, but it’s also an area where I’m still prone to making mistakes. Braking is absolutely crucial in all forms of racing and I find here that it’s quite easy to go over the limit and have a lock-up. At the same time, that’s what testing is for, trying to push the limits and experimenting with your driving style. I think I’m getting the hang of it now and I’m certainly better at it than two months ago.
You come to IndyCar after two seasons in Formula E, which was very much about energy conservation and race strategy. How much of that experience can you carry over to IndyCar?
More than you might think. Fuel saving is a major strategic aspect of IndyCar, and that’s an area where Ganassi and Scott (Dixon, team-mate) have historically excelled. Formula E is almost entirely about that kind of calculations, so I’m sure I can contribute to the team in a number of ways. I expect this to be a strong point for us this year.
What has been the most difficult thing adapting to?
As always, it’s the culture and the way of working. That’s always the most difficult part adapting to when you arrive in a new continent and a new, big team. To drive a racing car quickly is the same everywhere and in any car – but learning how to work with people from a different background and with different routines is a challenge. That’s why I’ve decided to spend a lot more time with the team this winter than I would normally have done in the past. Everyone has been so welcoming here in Indianapolis, taking the time to explain how they work and what I can expect and so on. I’m lucky to know some of the staff from before, but there’s still about 100 new faces to register. I want to know everybody who contribute to what we do, so that process obviously takes a bit of time – but it’s been a pleasure.
The opening round is now just one week away. What do you think you can realistically expect in St. Petersburg?
I’ve got a nice feeling for St. Pete. I’m really composed and good to go. Having said that, the first round of any championship – and especially here for me now in IndyCar, as a rookie – is always an uncertainty. We need to wait and see how we compare to our rivals. All I can say is that I’m as well-prepared as I could be and I’m driving better than ever right now – as for the rest, we will find out come Saturday next week…