Felix Rosenqvist addresses uncertain future with McLaren
NASHVILLE — Felix Rosenqvist’s motorsport future is suddenly a lot hazier.
On June 23, a press release from McLaren Racing and later quotes from Swedish driver and McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown stated unequivocally that there were only two options – IndyCar or Formula E. But, as almost all great motorsport stories do today, it involves stories of signed and unsigned contracts, parts McLaren Racing chess that Brown holds so delicately and if a driver’s career wishes will eventually come true.
Following multiple reports that Rosenqvist was not under contract with McLaren Racing beyond 2022 – contradicting the June 23 press release – the IndyCar driver spoke to the media after Friday’s practice for the Grand Big Machine Music City award, but declined to clarify.
“It’s between me and Zak. To be honest, I prefer not to talk about contracts,” Rosenqvist said. “That’s why they call them contracts – because they’re for you and the other signing party. It’s not for the public to know. »
What he said after that response, however, drew the curtains a bit. But first, let’s review how we got here.
How Alex Palou, Daniel Ricciardo and Oscar Piastri affect Rosenqvist’s future
A month ago at Mid-Ohio – the first race after the McLaren-Rosenqvist statement – the Swedish driver was hesitant to reveal his preferred future destination but reveled in the fact that he would stay with a familiar team, wherever Brown cornered him. .
“I know I’m going to continue with McLaren, and I think that’s the main good news,” he said. “I want to be with the team and I like working with Zak and everyone there. I spoke with both of them and had to agree on the terms for both of them. It’s almost like doing two contracts, and Zak has the final say on what’s going to happen.
Two weeks later, after his first podium with Arrow McLaren SP during his year and a half with the team, Rosenqvist felt a bit more emboldened. “I want to be where I am right now,” he said. “I think Arrow McLaren SP has pretty much become a home for me, but that’s up to Zak. He’s the man who moves.
“But I think if Zak was sure I was going to Formula E, he would have said so already. I’m going to take this chance, and if there’s a chance for me to be here next year, I’ll I will try to prove it.
Earlier in the week McLaren Racing announced the disputed signing of Alex Palou on a multi-year deal to drive somewhere in the McLaren family in 2023 and beyond. Given the nature of Palou’s change from his championship-winning run, many assumed his new contract secured a Formula 1 race (either in 2023 or 24) to go along with the F1 tests that were set out in the communicated. Even with a big pay rise, why else would a defending champion quit his race for a team that hadn’t reached the heights he had at Ganassi, if not for bigger and better things?
The AP has since reported in late July that McLaren F1 starter Daniel Ricciardo holds a driver option for the final year of his current contract, meaning McLaren would not have been given the chance to promise Palou a race. in 2023 at the pinnacle of motorsport. And this week, multiple reports said McLaren had signed 2021 Formula 2 champion Oscar Piastri for a run in F1 hoping to buy Ricciardo for his final year or hoping he would walk away.
So how does all of this involve Rosenqvist?
Learn more about Felix Rosenqvist:
Assuming Palou is not – and may never have been – destined for McLaren’s tenuous F1 seat – he would be certain to fit in alongside current (Pato O’Ward) and future (Alexander Rossi) AMSP drivers for next season. Such a move, under the guise of Rosenqvist exiting on June 23, would then send Rosenqvist to Formula E.
If only it could be that simple.
complicate all that is Chip Ganassi Racing’s ongoing lawsuit against Palou, filed July 25, which accuses the 2021 IndyCar champion of breach of contract and fiduciary duty. The reason? Ganassi thinks he has a valid team option on Palou for 2023 in IndyCar. hours before McLaren claimed Palou in a statement released on the evening of July 12, Ganassi sent his own announcement locking out Palou for next season. After two weeks back and forthincluding CGRs for a preliminary injunction and expedited discovery and Palou to return the case to federal court, the parties are set for their first formal sit-down via a virtual status and planning conference on August 9.
Even if Ganassi’s wish for a speedy hearing on the preliminary injunction – which would presumably bar Palou from officially joining McLaren Racing in any capacity until the case is settled – is granted and held from here. on August 30, it is not known how long it will take. Lawyers told IndyStar, however, that it would take weeks, if not months. Before the case was sent to federal court, the original judge assigned to the case had scheduled a hearing in early October.
And such a delay could have serious repercussions for Rosenqvist’s increasingly precarious future. It is still unclear if Rosenqvist is under contract as McLaren have announced the team hold an option on the driver for 2023 which can be picked up until the end of September or free to sign with another team after this season.
Learn more about Alex Palou:
If a judge decides McLaren’s deal with Palou is valid before the end of September, placing him in an Indy car for the team, then McLaren would have no reason to choose its 2023 IndyCar option over Rosenqvist. But if the case is in the works at the end of the month, McLaren will have found its way to the mess that all these signatures were built towards.
They will run the risk of signing Rosenqvist for an IndyCar ride – and with the chance they could land Palou and not get an F1 or IndyCar seat for him. A Formula E opportunity for the IndyCar champ was never what it was all about. And if McLaren misses its option on Rosenqvist, the team risks losing him and Palou.
“I think it all depends on the Palou case, what’s going to happen to me,” Rosenqvist said on Friday. “The Formula E thing is a bit secondary at this stage. I’m mainly focused on what I’m doing here and now, and I’m not too distracted by what’s going on in the background.
Rosenqvist hints at a change of plans
So why wouldn’t Rosenqvist be signed up for Formula E after September then, if Palou is forced to stay with Ganassi, re-entering IndyCar in 2023? It’s possible if McLaren’s press release is correct. But a request from IndyStar to McLaren Racing to comment on Rosenqvist’s future was not returned.
When IndyStar asked Rosenqvist if he would pursue an IndyCar opportunity outside of McLaren, he said, “That, we’ll see.”
That doesn’t sound like a driver who has a Formula E contract ready for Brown to apply. Maybe the parties only reached a handshake deal, but no contract was signed and Rosenqvist decided he’d rather stay in IndyCar at all costs. Perhaps there is still some sort of “IndyCar out clause” that Rosenqvist holds should he receive an offer elsewhere.
But with no one answering those questions, it’s worth noting that Palou’s uncertain future at the top lined up with Rosenqvist’s emboldened attitude to want to stay in IndyCar.
“It’s not optimal. I think I’m still up for negotiating and doing deals here and there, but that’s for the offseason — not for the season, except it opened really early this year,” Rosenqvist said Friday. “It’s not optimal for our team. It affects people in the organization, and that’s not good, but that’s the way it is.
“Half of these things don’t concern me at all, and you read stuff, and you don’t know what’s true or not. There are obviously a lot of rumors and people who think they know what’s going on, but it’s obviously not the truth that only those involved know. But as long as it doesn’t distract us too much, I think we’re fine and we’ll focus on what’s on my mind.
“The rest is useless.”