Felix Rosenqvist has completed his first test since being signed by Chip Ganassi Racing for the 2019 IndyCar Series. The Swedish driver drove the #10 NTT Data Honda at Barber Motorsports Park yesterday, with his team-mate and recently re-crowned champion Scott Dixon also on track at the Alabama circuit.
Both Rosenqvist and Dixon completed plenty of laps during the course of the test, with Ganassi team members stating that the new team-mates had “complemented each other and helped each other” during the day. Felix also had his new engineer, Julian Robertson, and his driver coach and former series champion, Dario Franchitti, on standby to help him out during the day.
It was Rosenqvist’s first outing in an IndyCar since his last test with Chip Ganassi Racing at Mid-Ohio in 2017. It was Rosenqvist’s first running with the current IndyCar universal aero-kit, which offers much less aerodynamic grip compared to the cars that Felix had driven in the past.
Thankfully for Felix, he was not going into the test completely blind, as he has previously driven at Barber Motorsports Park when he competed in Indy Lights in 2016. The twenty-six-year-old did comment, however, that the sheer speed of the cars was “a bit of a shock” after having spent the last year racing in Formula E and Super GT.
“I’ve been to Barber before, so I remembered the track, and the car was what I expected with less grip, but it still has a lot of grip in the high-speed corners; you mostly feel the lack of downforce in the slower corners,” Felix told RACER after the test concluded.
“I was quite happy to get a run in the car because I haven’t been in something like this for a while; this year I was just in Super GT and Formula E, which wasn’t comparable. It was a bit of a shock to me to realize how quick these cars are.”
Rosenqvist went on to say that yesterday’s test had a completely “different vibe” to his previous IndyCar outings, with much of his day centred around getting acclimatised with his new surroundings ahead of his rookie campaign next year.
“I love driving these cars, which is why I wanted to go to IndyCar; it’s physical, the tracks are really challenging, and it takes a while to get into the mindset you need,” Felix said, “It was like, ‘OK, we’re doing this!’ Working with Scott is always helpful, and the approach was different from my previous tests. It was calmer. Before, it was more pressure, feeling like you had to prove something because there was a chance to race for them. It was a different vibe today; breathe, look at the data, and get comfortable.”
— Mike Hull (@IndyMHull) October 29, 2018
Whilst no lap times were recorded at Barber yesterday, according to Chip Ganassi Racing’s managing director, Mike Hull, Rosenqvist and Dixon’s times would have seen them “in good places on the grid” for the race held back in April.
“We had very similar temperatures and track temperatures compared to the Spring race, minus the rain, and we worked a lot on our road course setups which was good to compare here at Barber,” Mike told RACER,
“Rosenqvist was really good and worked hard throughout the day, including the sticker-fest at the end. Very different testing paths for the two guys, but there was also some good direct comparisons between the two that could be made. Lap time-wise, we would have been in good places on the grid. It’s funny; when you don’t work on lap time, it comes to you, and when you try, you can never find it.”
Hull went on to comment on how well Rosenqvist and Dixon had worked together during the course of the day, stating that he had a good feeling about the partnership going into 2019.
“They complemented each other and helped each other,” Hull said. “Felix understands what he wants in the race car, and then he’s capable of going out and providing what you want to see after making the change. He understands what he’s capable of doing, and worked well with Julian [Robertson] and Dario [Franchitti] and they got a lot out of the car. It was a good day for them.”
“Morris Nunn [Former IndyCar and Formula 1 team owner] used to say ‘I want that guy driving my car,’ and you get that feeling with Felix. I certainly had that feeling from the beginning of the day onwards. I think he and Scott work well together and will continue to because of what they have in common.”
Private tests will continue for various 2019 IndyCar drivers and team prior to the first official group pre-season test at the Circuit of the Americas from February 12 to 13. The 2019 IndyCar Series itself will kick-off with the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday, March 10.