Felix Rosenqvist fired a broadside at IndyCar’s stewards after a qualifying penalty prevented him from progressing out of the first round at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on Saturday.
The Chip Ganassi Racing rookie ran wide on the way up the hill towards the Corkscrew and dropped a wheel into the dirt, spinning him part-way across the track. James Hinchcliffe checked up to avoid him, and Rosenqvist was able to rejoin and continue.
Race control swiftly determined that the incident constituted qualifying interference and that Rosenqvist’s two fastest laps from the session would be disallowed. Rosenqvist’s best laps would have been comfortably fast enough for him to progress to the next round, but the penalty instead relegates him to 14th for tomorrow’s race.
The penalty was consistent with rule 8.3.5 and rule 18.104.22.168, which states that “if a Car interferes with the Qualifications attempt of another Car other than through a Red Condition”… “if the violation occurs during Segment One (1) or Segment Two (2), the Car’s best two (2) timed laps during that segment shall be disallowed and the Car shall not advance to the next segment.”
Rosenqvist’s argument was that the infraction occurred during the relatively inconsequential opening minutes of the session when drivers were still lapping on blacks before making their dedicated runs on the alternate tires.
“I don’t know what they were thinking,” said an incensed Rosenqvist. “That lap didn’t mean anything for anyone. I had a spin. Then they’re saying I blocked someone while I was spinning. It was the second lap on black tires, which doesn’t mean anything.
“We were working for three days for this moment. We had the fastest time on track, and the guys just did an incredible job, and I think it’s unfair to take that away. Honestly, one of the most ridiculous decisions I have ever seen.”
Asked whether he’d take the matter up with the series, Rosenqvist said that he didn’t see much point.
“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “They ruined our day. I don’t know why. Maybe someone has something against me — or they want Herta to win the rookie championship.”
Herta indeed snipped a point out of Rosenqvist’s Rookie of the Year lead by claiming pole position for the race.