Rosenqvist on the rise with new engineer and old buddy Lawrence

STREETS OF LONG BEACH, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA - APRIL 16: #6: Felix Rosenqvist, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet, Pit Stop at Streets of Long Beach on Sunday April 16, 2023 in Long Beach, United States of America. (Photo by Richard Dole / LAT Images)
STREETS OF LONG BEACH, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA - APRIL 16: #6: Felix Rosenqvist, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet, Pit Stop at Streets of Long Beach on Sunday April 16, 2023 in Long Beach, United States of America. (Photo by Richard Dole / LAT Images)

Felix Rosenqvist has been fortunate to work with some of the best race engineers in IndyCar. At Chip Ganassi Racing, he was paired with championship-winning technical director Julian Robertson, and after having four-time Champ Car champion Craig Hampson in charge of his Arrow McLaren entry last season, the Swede learned from yet another first-ballot hall-of-famer on the timing stand.

All of that changed for Rosenqvist in 2023 as his team expanded to three cars, welcomed Alexander Rossi to the program, and assigned Hampson as the Indy 500 winner’s race engineer. Left to start over, Rosenqvist wasn’t concerned as an old acquaintance, his simulation engineer Chris Lawrence, looked ready to step and take on the task of becoming a race engineer in charge of the new No. 6 Chevy effort.

Despite being new to the role, Lawrence has thrived, and together, the American and his driver — now in his fifth IndyCar season — have been among the most competitive and consistent pairings over the last five races. Barring Rosenqvist’s crash at the Indy 500, he and Lawrence have combined to place inside the top 10 at every race since Long Beach, including a season-best run to third at the most recent round in Detroit.

Sometimes it takes a while for new race engineers to figure out what their drivers need to succeed, but that isn’t the case with these two.

“Chris and I knew each other before I even joined the team,” Rosenqvist said. “When I was still at CGR, me and Chris you got to know each other through a mutual friend, and when I joined [Arrow McLaren], it seems like hey, we’re buddies and now we’re on the same car. So he would work in the simulator a lot with me, which is where we built our working side — we built our relationship and how we communicate and talk about the car and such.

“So when Craig was going to Rossi’s car, I was very keen on having Chris as my engineer, because we, at that time, didn’t know who that guy was going to be. But obviously, he felt like he was ready. I felt like all those multiple days we’ve had in the simulator talking about things, he had a way of understanding what I like and what I say about the car. I don’t think I’ve had anyone yet in my career like that, who could understand me at that level and put it into numbers in a nerdy engineer way.”

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Rosenqvist says the intense daily atmosphere at the Indianapolis 500 is what locked he and Lawrence into the groove they’re putting to good use. At present, they’re 10th in the championship and another couple of strong runs could easily propel the No. 6 Chevy entry to the top five.

“During the month of May, something really clicked between me him and also Nigel, my performance engineer, where it’s that level where we just look at each other and he’s like, ‘Ah, OK, he needs a different roll center,’” he added.

Rosenqvist feels that simpatico with your engineer is an underrated element of IndyCar success…and that it’s in place for him with Arrow McLaren. Gavin Baker/Motorsport Images

“It’s very rare that you have that, but I think if you look, for example, like [CGR’s] Marcus [Ericsson], his engineer, Brad [Goldberg], they clearly have a really good way of working with each other. And I have to say after seeing that with Marcus, I was like, ‘Dude, I need to find that.’ Because I think in IndyCar, it is so underrated how you could have the best team ever, you can have the best crew, best pit stops. But if you don’t have that almost ‘bromance’ with your engineer, it’s gonna be hard. Because some people have that, and when you get that, it’s unbeatable.”

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