Sam Schmidt has grand ambitions for his team’s new NTT IndyCar Series line-up. With Felix Rosenqvist’s confirmation alongside the returning Pato O’Ward in 2021, the co-owner of Arrow McLaren SP hopes to see an epic tandem emerge.
“When this whole process started, going back all the way to Arrow Electronics becoming the primary partner many years ago, our goal has always been to find a magic combination like Roger (Penske) had with Helio Castroneves and Gil de Ferran,” Schmidt told RACER. “Pato and Felix can grow with the company and our partners, and really be regular competitors for wins and championships. We know that’s a really big goal, given Penske and Ganassi and Andretti and their four or five cars each is a lot to overcome. And we only have two, but, with the McLaren technical alliance and their group, and some really smart people under our roof, there’s a good feeling of where we’re going.”
Like many in the paddock, Schmidt had his eye on Rosenqvist for quite some time before the Swede signed with Chip Ganassi Racing in 2019.
“I was an Indy Lights team owner when Felix came over (in 2016) and kicked our butts, without any experience whatsoever, and that definitely raised a lot of eyebrows,” he said. “Then you watch him go to Formula E and everything he jumped in, he won. And that’s impressive for sure. And so, I tested him at an Indy Lights test back in the day and we thought highly of him.
“So we’ve been watching him and his progression. He’s got a lot of great things. And so for a young team, with young drivers, we took a total group decision with our partners and felt like this is an opportunity we can’t pass up.”
With O’Ward’s charge to fourth in the championship, the outgoing Oliver Askew’s fine podium — in only his fifth IndyCar race — at Iowa, and an incoming winner with Rosenqvist, Schmidt, co-owner Ric Peterson, and their partners at McLaren could be headed for big things when the new season starts in March.
“What’s not to like?” Schmidt asked. “You’ve seen Arrow’s commitment and McLaren’s commitment both on and off the track, and we want to win. And this is the combination of drivers that we think we can get it done.”