The Arrow McLaren SP IndyCar team might have more engineers than all of the combined staff at some smaller rivals, and if AMSP’s recent form in qualifying tells us anything, it’s how the deep engineering pool is making a noticeable difference this season.
AMSP’s time trial game has risen to new heights as the two-car team now has as many poles as Andretti Autosport’s four-car team, and more than Chip Ganassi Racing’s tally across its four entries.
AMSP’s Pato O’Ward—with two wins this season — has started inside the top seven in nine of the last 10 races, including a pole position at Mid-Ohio and a front-row start in Alabama. Teammate Felix Rosenqvist has started inside the top 10 in 10 of the last 12 races, including poles at Texas and, most recently, on Friday at the Indy road course.
Compared to 2021, both AMSP drivers are now regularly expected to be in the mix to earn starting spots at the sharp end of the grid, and according to Rosenqvist, Craig Hampson and Will Anderson (Rosenqvist’s and O’Ward’s respective race engineers) have found an interesting groove by starting the weekends on different paths.
“We, as a team, [have been], from an engineering standpoint…I wouldn’t say wildly all over the place, but we’ve been very experimental the last two years, especially on my car, pretty much every weekend,” he said. “Craig is calling me on Monday. It’s like, ‘Hey, are you open to try something different?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah.’ I think Pato, in general, is more inclined to run kind of what we ran last year with a little evolution, and I’ve been trying more new philosophies of setup.
“Surprisingly, it’s not often you do…a big change and it works, but almost everywhere we’ve gone, me and Craig and the guys on the No. 7 car have been able to develop something new that works. Sometimes Pato’s package works better, like in Iowa, for example. Day one, his car was probably a bit better than mine, and then day two, I went to his car [setup].”
The onboarding of new AMSP technical director Gavin Ward, at the beginning of the month, has also made a difference according to Rosenqvist.
“With Gavin coming along, I think that his role — [having] an overview of the whole situation with both cars and just [leading] us in the best direction — [has helped] me and Pato,” he said. “We have a really good engineering crew; they’re really clever people. We have a lot of fun. There’s a lot of laughing and jokes and stuff going around and then, when it’s time to switch on, I feel like everyone’s laser sharp. I’m really enjoying the working environment right now.”