Rosenqvist, Lundqvist and Ericsson discuss mixed fortunes at St. Pete

Photo Credit: Penske Entertainment | James Black
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It was a case of mixed results at the season opener at St. Petersburg for the three Swedish drivers racing under the flag in the 2024 IndyCar championship.

Felix Rosenqvist was the only one to finish in the top 10, driving to P7 for Meyer Shank Racing after qualifying a brilliant 2nd on Saturday. Linus Lundqvist and Marcus Ericsson both retired in a disappointing start to the campaign.

The 32-year-old broke into the Firestone Fast Six on his debut for MSR — setting a lap record in the Fast 12 in the process — but fell away slightly during the race with just one set of alternate tyres, compared to some rivals with two sets. He used the alternates in the first stint, leaving him exposed on restarts later in the day.

“On the reds, which I think ended up not being the right strategy, but at that point, you’re not sure if they’ll hold on, so you can’t be super aggressive in the first stint. 

Rosenqvist lost out in the pits as well. A slow final stop left him vulnerable to the overcut by Colton Herta who was on the same tyre strategy. McLaughlin and Power also passed him after the final restart.

“After that, it seemed like a lot of people used their reds. We only had one set, so you had to take it on blacks. We had one little hiccup in the pits and lost a little bit.”

Despite some minor issues throughout the 100-lap race, Rosenqvist was pleased with the season opener and his debut with the team.

“Considering all that, we had a pretty solid day. I don’t think it was top five in it. I just struggled a little bit. We had some problems with some stuff but were super happy with the whole team effort. Meyer Shank Racing, SiriusXM and AutoNation. It was a brilliant first weekend together, even if it was only P7.”

Lundqvist suffered a retirement on his debut for Chip Ganassi Racing after a collision with Romain Grosjean ended his race.

The Swede was running in 12th place before the collision at Turn 10, and he was confident they delivered on the strategy in the race’s opening stages.

“It was not the day that we wanted to have. I think we were looking really good over the first stint, managing and looking after the car and the tyres. 

“We were pushing when we needed to do a bit of an overcut and gained a few places in the pit stop sequence. 

“I think we did everything we could to maximise our strategy, and we were fastest when we needed to be. We were fighting on the edge of the top 10 and then sadly got taken out.”

Photo Credit: Penske Entertainment | Chris Owens

The 24-year-old remained calm after a disappointing afternoon. With 16 rounds to go, many points and good results are up for grabs.

“It’s quite unfortunate because the guys and girls with the American Legion team did such a phenomenal job fighting for that top 10 position. 

“It is a long season, and we will definitely bounce back from that and bring the positives from the speed that we had.”

Ericsson retired after his car lost power due to debris getting stuck in the number 28 car.

The 2022 Indy 500 winner floundered throughout much of practice but improved in qualifying to go sixth quickest. He was running in P6 when things started to go wrong and was likely for a very strong result.

The Swede moved from Chip Ganassi to Andretti over the winter and is the most experienced of the team’s three drivers.

Photo Credit: Penske Entertainment | James Black

The former Formula 1 driver is anticipating the team will bounce back next time out at the non-championship $1 Million Challenge at the Thermal Club.

“Having an issue out of our control take us out of the race was a disappointing way to end the weekend. We had a really solid weekend, and I think that the Delaware Life Honda was working well. We had a strong qualifying, reaching the Firestone Fast Six and a solid race, running in the top six. 

“I’m disappointed to go out and how we did at our first race, but we will regroup and bring all the positives as we advance because there were a lot of them this weekend. We’ll come back stronger for Thermal.”