LONG BEACH, Calif – Felix Rosenqvist has had a fast race car all weekend on the streets of Long Beach. Unfortunately, his No. 10 Honda has also spent a lot of time in the run off sections of the 1.968-mile street circuit too.
It happened in both rounds of qualifying on Saturday to set the field for Sunday’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach (4 p.m. ET/NBCSN/IndyCar Radio Network). The second time was heartbreaking.
In round one, the Swedish rookie got into one of the corners too hot and went into the runoff. Luckily, it was very early on in the session and he didn’t impede anyone else’s lap. He was able to change tires and make it to the second round.
In that second round, Rosenqvist, set the second quickest lap late in the session. He was heading to the Firestone Fast Six. But, on his lap coming into the pits, he got into the corner too hot and locked his brakes which as a result of that, ended up in another runoff and into the tire barriers bringing out the red flag. By doing so, he loses his fastest two laps which sent him from at the very least a top six starting spot to 12th.
Rosenqvist, said that he was just trying to get to the pits at speed because he didn’t want to slow any one’s lap up. He knew he’d be penalized if he did that. So, he was still going on a hot lap and made a costly mistake.
“(The contact with the wall) was a driver mistake, definitely,” said Rosenqvist. “I had a good lap, then went for a second one that looked a bit slower, but probably tried too hard there in the last sector. It’s always within thousands and hundreds of a second, and you don’t really want to relax even if you’ve had a good lap time. The instruction is always to push until the end. It’s always such a small margin, so just a slight mistake looking up over the bump will cost you. I maybe broke three to four feet later than the lap before, and that was enough to down settle the front and I got out in the dirt a little bit. It’s done and I couldn’t make it to the safety zone, so I was sort of stuck in the middle there and hit the tires. It was really unfortunate, but that’s on me. The NTT DATA car was really good today, so credit to the boys and we’ll focus on the race tomorrow.”
He qualified third and fifth respectively in the first two races of the season but 17th and 12th over the last two.
Luckily, he has a fast race car as he was seventh, third and eighth respectively in practice. This one though, likely costs him a victory as the Fast Six is where you need to be to win at Long Beach.