The NTT INDYCAR SERIES rolled into Canada this weekend for the Honda Indy Toronto, their only trip outside of the United States this year. Arrow McLaren’s Felix Rosenqvist was the leading Chevrolet-powered car in third place with a time of 01:00.8607s and speaking following the action he said:
Felix Rosenqvist, No. 6 Chevrolet at Arrow McLaren INDYCAR:
“It is a pretty different experience this year. It seems like there are some new repaves and patches on the track, so initially the session was really slippery and everyone was just waiting for the track to go quicker, but it didn’t seem to happen. Then it kind of got traction, and the lap times tumbled. It was a new challenge, I’d say. It was the most different it’s been to get back here. I think Turn 9, Turn 10 and Turn 11 were a complete rethink in terms of driving lines and just how you approach it, really. Some other corners were better, like Turn 3 and Turn 6 were less bumpy. They improved some places, while some places are harder as a driver. So, today was quite challenging I thought, but it was a good session for us. The car felt good, and I think all of us as a team were pretty up-front all session.”
Will Power, No. 12 Chevrolet at Team Penske:
“Pretty good session. Definitely a lot of track evolution, so we’ll see if we can make some improvements overnight. Still happy with where we were when we finished.”
Scott McLaughlin, No. 3 Chevrolet at Team Penske:
“Good day for us in the Gallagher Chevy. P5. Put a lap in there at the end on the green (alternate) tires, so I think we’re in good spot, but we’ve got to push on for more.”
Pato O’Ward, No. 5 Chevrolet at Arrow McLaren INDYCAR:
“We had a good start here in Toronto. It was a very messy session for us, but I was able to get a good read on what the car was doing pretty much all around the lap. We just never had a lap when the tire was at its optimal, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow and trying to make it a little bit better, and we’ll see what we’ve got.”
Alexander Rossi, No. 7 Chevrolet at Arrow McLaren INDYCAR:
“It was a good start to the weekend. The No. 7 NTT DATA Arrow McLaren Chevrolet rolled off strong. It’s in the window and was competitive through the whole session, so we’ll make some minor adjustments overnight and keep developing it as the day goes on tomorrow.”
Gavin Ward, Race Director at Arrow McLaren INDYCAR:
“Practice 1 was a great start to the weekend for the team. As always, it’s super tight. I think we need to find a little bit to fight with the Andrettis who looked pretty strong today, but there’s time there. I have no doubt that we’ll dig deep and find something overnight.”
Callum Ilott, No. 77 Chevrolet at Juncos Hollinger Racing:
“Overall, pretty positive session for us. I think we ended up P13. Track’s had a couple of changes with new tarmac here and there. Quite challenging compared to last year with a few unexpected bumps. It’s part of the game. Overall, a couple of things to work on, couple of directions to go, but I think P13 is a solid first practice for us. Hopefully we can work off of it and aim for the Fast 12 tomorrow in qualifying.”
FELIX ROSEQVIST, driver of the No. 6 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet – End of Day Press Conference:
Q. What are you learning?
FELIX ROSENQVIST: Yeah, pretty different experience this year. Seems like there’s some new repaves and patches on the track. Initially the session was really slippery, and everyone was just waiting for the track to go quicker, but it didn’t seem to happen.
Then it kind of got traction and the lap times tumbled. But it was a new challenge. I would say it was the most different it’s been to get back here.
I think Turn 9, Turn 10, Turn 11 was like a complete rethink in terms of driving lines and just how we approach it, really. Some other corners that were better, I thought, like Turn 6 was less bumpy, Turn 3 was less bumpy. They improved some places, and some places are harder as a driver.
Quite challenging I thought, but good session for us. The car felt good, and I think all of us in the team were pretty up front all session.
Q. Can you throw some detail at us on the 9, 10, 11? Is it because of the way the bumps lay out makes you have to take a different line?
FELIX ROSENQVIST: Yeah, so approaching 9, you have a new tarmac right on the apex, so you’re kind of turning in with understeer. Then as you hit the apex you grip up, so you kind of have to go in too quick for the grip you have, but then you have to trust that it grips.
Then going into 10, there’s a massive bump right on entry, so you kind of have to go through that. Like there’s no choice, you have to go through it.
Then as a car, it kind of lands on the bump, you have to turn in, and if you take it with too much speed it’s really easy to just go straight. I think we saw a couple of, me including, trying that, and yeah, you’re just mixing it up with different the lines and stuff. Was kind of interesting.
Then 11, the new tarmac kind of ends right at the apex, so you can send it in pretty hard, but then it gets bumpy on exit. Yeah, it’s a complete inverted approach to the section, but I thought it was fun. You could see us working out there for sure.
Q. It sounds a little Mario Kart-y where you have slick spots and then hope that you catch the sticky spots in the right place kind of thing, or you speed up really quickly and slow down in weird spots?
FELIX ROSENQVIST: It kind of reminds me a bit of rally driving, like you have to set the car up before the jump and then you have to land in the right place. It’s like, yeah, a rally approach but way less jumping, obviously. Yeah, it makes you think.
I think it’s kind of rare to have that in INDYCAR, so it’s a new challenge for sure.
Q. Obviously we’re at the halfway point of the season now, so I guess you’ve had a couple weeks off to think about your season as a whole and what you might want to be doing for the second half, I guess. I know your qualifying is basically third best in the series, but obviously your finishes have not been quite as strong as that. What are you focusing on for the second part of the season?
FELIX ROSENQVIST: Yeah, it’s been some unfortunate races for us, especially the last two ones, just kind of ending up nowhere after basically — not DNF, but being at the back.
I don’t know, I think you approach it a bit differently. Maybe you try to go for a big result. I think there’s probably no chance for us to win the championship.
I think I’m mentally more in a head space where I want to go for like — if I can go for a win, I’ll try all in, and I think a lot of us are in the same position because Alex is just taking off in the standings.
Like I say, we’ve been super fast on one lap, and I think actually the race pace has been mega, as well.
Just haven’t really strung a result together in the last three, four races. Looking forward to just having a solid week, and I feel like we started good here. Normally a pretty good place for us, so yeah, just looking forward to having a smooth weekend.
Q. It feels less like there’s something specific that you need to change, like just as an example you’ve got too much understeer in the car, it’s not necessarily looking at for the second half of the season that you need to change, it’s more outside of your control have impacted your performances?
FELIX ROSENQVIST: I mean, I think we’ve had both, right. We had races where I’ve made mistakes like Indy, Texas. I think those two sting for sure. It was completely in my hands. Then we had probably more races where it’s just been completely out of our control, like Road America, mechanical issue, and then lap 1 Mid-Ohio I got taken out by my countryman.
Yeah, there’s been a lot of that stuff going on, so obviously you fall pretty quick in the standings. I think like one, maximum two DNFs is what you can have if you want to go for a title.
I mean, I think as a group obviously we try to reduce our mistakes, but in some way it’s out of our control. We try not to think too much about it. The pace has been really good, especially race pace this year has been awesome, so just try to get it together.
Q. You talked about the new tarmac and how sticky it is and you’re looking at grip, and tomorrow we’ve got rain predicted for most of the day. How will that affect the car?
FELIX ROSENQVIST: I don’t even want to know. I’m not jealous of Tom because that was actually — I think that felt kind of foreign to all of us, especially in the beginning of the session. Then it gripped up quite well.
Yeah, in the wet it’s going to be hard. I haven’t been here in the wet. I think some of the veterans, sort of the true veterans have been here in the wet, but I can only imagine. Like 9, 10, 11 is going to be really tricky. That new tarmac might be slippery, I think, in the wet. Yeah, I don’t know, it’s just going to be a free-for-all.
Q. Felix, following up on looking at the second half of the season, how would you define the second half going well? Is it getting a win? Is it where you end up in the standings at the end of the day or is it something else?
FELIX ROSENQVIST: You mean in the standings? I don’t know. I think like we’re not here to be P12 or P11. I think a win or something like that would be a good way to kind of end at the end of the season. I think there’s some good tracks for us coming up. Just kind of — I think more than anything, being able to string together some race results and feeling like we didn’t leave anything on the table would be a rewarding feeling after having some troubled races.
Yeah, I know we can be there if we just do the job. Yeah, just going for the win.