Felix Rosenqvist expecting to make a splash at Honda Indy Toronto

Rookie Swede excels on street tracks, loves the CNE course

Felix Rosenqvist finds Toronto's Indy Car course much to his liking. He had a strong practice session on Friday.  Indy Racing League

Felix Rosenqvist is a rookie to the NTT IndyCar Series, but when it comes to racing in Toronto, the young Swede has the confidence of an experienced veteran.

The 27 year-old has won the twice on the streets of Toronto, while in the Indy Lights development series.

A former 24-hours of Le Mans driver, he started this weekend off strong at Friday’s first practice session, setting the third fastest lap time at 1:01.23, less than two tenths of a second behind two-time Honda Indy winner, and fellow Chip Ganassi racer, Scott Dixon.

In the second practice of the day, Rosenqvist shaved over a second off his time, posting a 59.93 lap time,  the second fastest of the day.

Rosenqvist will look to take advantage of his experience of tighter road courses, where he honed his skills driving in the European Formula 3 Championship, as well as other European championship series.

Known as a street circuit specialist, Rosenqvist put up his best finishes of the year at the St. Petersburg Grand Prix, and Detroit Grand Prix, where he finished fourth place in the former, and fourth in one of the two weekend events at Belle Isle, Michigan.

“I think the street courses have been the standout not only form me but also for our team this year,” Rosenqvist said in an interview with Indycar.com’s Jeff Pappone.

The Swedish rookie is forecasting a solid weekend, displaying his confidence in his ability on street courses.

“I expected this one to be a good one, and it has been so far.”

Being a street circuit, Rosenqvist is naturally sees it as one of the most enjoyable tracks in the series.

“I think this is one of the most fun circuits.  It puts a smile on my face when you do a good lap, and it seems like you can sort of trade courage for lap time here when you want to.”

Consistency this year, however, has been an issue for Rosenqvist, crashing twice in 10 races – most notably, during practice at the Indy 500. The young driver was the second to hit the wall in practice, after two-time Formula One Champion Fernando Alonso crashed and was subsequently bumped from the race.

During the first two practice sessions here on Friday, multiple drivers made contact with the wall coming out of the turn 11 on the streets of Toronto, as a slippery patch described as “epoxy” by race officials, has caused several minor accidents coming out of the apex.

Alexander Rossi, who is in second place in the series standings, had ample trouble with turn 11, clipping the concrete as he came out of the corner in the second practice.

“I think Turn 11 is always hard. I don’t think it’s any different this year. I just think we saw probably a few guys trying quite hard there, and yeah, today is the day to try it”, said Rossi, who is driving number 27 for Andretti Auto Sports.

“You don’t want to make these mistakes tomorrow or Sunday, obviously, so you can get a little bit more adventurous with your lines and experimentation to see if something works, and obviously I found a few things that didn’t work, and hopefully we don’t find any more.”

Risk management becomes apparent on a track like Toronto’s. Simon Pagenaud, managed the danger to perfection, setting the pace with the fastest lap time of the day.

“I think because the risk vs. reward is so big, right, you really have to decide if that’s a good choice to go in as solid as you think or if you should give some up,” said Pagenaud. “That’s what’s so much fun in qualifying here.”

Despite crashing twice this season, Rosenqvist is still in 10th place in the IndyCar Championship standings, with two top-five and six top-10 finishes.

At the Indianapolis Grand Prix (the road course sibling of the Indy 500 oval race) the  Chip Ganassi Racing driver captured his first-ever pole position and led the race for 15 laps, before falling to eighth by the time the checkered flag was waved.

Rosenqvist will be looking to put his Indy Lights experience, and success on the streets of Toronto to use, as he looks to produce his first career podium finish as an IndyCar driver.

There will be one more practice before qualifying takes place at 2 p.m. Saturday, where the burgeoning star will look to continue his dominance on the streets of Toronto.

Sunday, the green flag is scheduled to drop at 3:42 p.m.

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Posted: Jul 12 2019 10:42 pm
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