It will be a genuine surprise if Chip Ganassi Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist fails to claim a first win, and possibly more, throughout the upcoming NTT IndyCar Series season.
The 2019 IndyCar Rookie of the Year proved to be a perfect fit for the team which had gone most of the decade without a second driver equipped to complement and challenge its five-time champion, Scott Dixon.
In the well-traveled Swede, CGR found the spark it was missing as Rosenqvist finished sixth in the championship, not far behind Dixon in fourth. Their similar driving styles and chassis setup preferences made life easier for the team to work in a concerted effort to face and overcome Team Penske and Andretti Autosport.
Dixon’s two wins and 10 podiums were more impactful than Rosenqvist’s six visits to the top five, but with a vast disparity in experience, and the 28-year-old’s need to learn a number of tracks during his first IndyCar campaign, the separation in consistency and effectiveness under the CGR tent wasn’t unexpected.
At the onset of his second year with the team, Rosenqvist has come up with the perfect approach to handling the heightened expectations: “I’m trying to not think too much about those things,” he told RACER.
“It’s a long-haul season and it’s easy to start thinking too much. The less you’re in a car in a long off-season like the one we’ve had, the more you start thinking about things you can’t control, so I think I’ll let the results speak. And I feel more prepared than ever. I feel physically, really fit and ready.”
In CGR’s efforts to expand its team and pose a greater threat to Team Penske and Andretti Autosport, Rosenqvist’s countryman Marcus Ericsson was added as a third entry for 2020. The onboarding process, as CGR monopolizes the Swedish driving talent in the series, has been a positive for the driver referred to as ‘Fro,’ ‘Frosenqvist,’ and ‘Rosie’ within the team.
“I think the team has taken a really good trajectory since Marcus came along,” he said. “Both when it comes to off-track, I think it’s more fun when he’s in the team, definitely. Because it’s just more… It’s another good dude to hang out with, you know? And also, his crew, which is from the [former] Ganassi sports car team, is bringing a lot of knowledge as well.
“And the team in general seems to be on a good trend from having a couple of tough years. So yeah, I think all those little things and differences will definitely add up, I hope, to a better year for myself, and Scott, and Marcus. But I’m not going to give any numbers on how I expect us to do or say anything I’ll regret saying later, but hope I can back up all those things I said. That’s why I’m here.”
After cycling through a few different drivers in the wake of Dario Franchitti’s retirement following the 2013 season, there’s a definite feeling within CGR that Rosenqvist can join Dixon as a team leader and, whenever the 39-year old New Zealander decides to retire, continue his front-running tradition.
Those feelings, however, need to be solidified with results and consistency, and from his perspective, everyone at the team is pulling for his long-term success.
“Well, I feel like I have good trust and support in all my crew,” he said. “They certainly do believe in my abilities. And especially, ending the year on such a high that we did, everyone’s just been as excited as I am to get back on track. I mean, we all live with pressure. That’s always going to be there. There’s never going to be a season in your life where you don’t feel that it’s going to be the most important one of your life.
“So, yeah, that’s again something, the more you think about it, probably the worse you’re going to be. But I feel we’re ready. That’s all we need to think about for the moment. And then the pressure and all that can come when it wants to.”