Rosenqvist: O’Ward "one of the quickest young drivers" in the world

Felix Rosenqvist says that new team-mate Pato O’Ward is a huge talent, and believes that while it’s too early to compare driving styles, that might not ultimately be so relevant.

Rosenqvist: O’Ward "one of the quickest young drivers" in the world

Speaking to media ahead of Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet’s 2021 livery reveal, each driver was full of praise for the other, and stated their goal was to ensure they pushed each other this year in order to earn the team race wins.

However, Rosenqvist said that it’s too soon to assess how they’ll compare and contrast in terms of driving style but already sees his new team-mate as “one of the quickest young drivers out there”.

“It’s a bit early to judge because we’ve only been to Barber and Sebring [tests],” said the 28-year-old Swede who arrives at the team after spending his first two IndyCar seasons with Chip Ganassi Racing.

“What I’ve been able to see is that Pato is very quick, one of the quickest young drivers out there at the moment – not only in the US but in the world. That’s definitely going to push me and I hope I can push him as well.

Felix Rosenqvist, Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet

Felix Rosenqvist, Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet

Photo by: IndyCar Series

“I think we’re at the level now where I don’t think people have a really specific driving style. I think it’s more how good can you adapt to each corner on each track. At this level you can’t really get away with ‘I have this driving style so I’m only good on these tracks.’ I think you need to have the whole package and be good everywhere.

“Scott [Dixon] who I worked with before, he could do that, and Pato can do that, and myself, I also can do that. The driving style thing more and more fades away and you just have to be on it the whole time, everywhere.”

O’Ward agreed that he could not yet judge whether their tastes were closely aligned, but said he was looking forward to Rosenqvist providing some insight from his previous experience, having learned that the set-up philosophies of Ganassi and Arrow McLaren SP are significantly different.

“Yeah, I think it’s a little early to be able to tell what we like,” he said. “Every race weekend there is going to be some positive where we see what exactly we like compared to each other, but I think so far we’ve been able to drive sort of a similar car – in some aspects no, in some aspects yes. But it really depends on the condition of the track, on the corner.

“And Felix says this car is very different from what he was used to, that’s the impression I got. I think that’s something we can all pay attention to, to see where we might be lacking and where we’re very strong. I think it might open our window bigger to be faster, be more competitive.”

O’Ward, who narrowly missed out on a maiden IndyCar win on multiple occasions last year, was still able to finish fourth in the 2020 championship on the back of four podium finishes.

Pato O'Ward Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet IndyCar 2020

Pato O'Ward Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet IndyCar 2020

Photo by: Motorsport Images

He says that despite the desire to taste IndyCar victory, he will be maintaining his policy of showing restraint in order to not make a mistake.

“The biggest thing this year for us is race wins: we need to get that first win out of the way and start racking up as many as we can,” O’Ward said. “But it’s such a competitive series so we need to take the opportunities that are presented to us every single weekend to the maximum. If we only have a car for fifth, we take fifth. If we can win a race, we try and win the race.

“I have lots of faith in this Arrow McLaren SP group. The engineers have been working tirelessly this whole off season to try and find those little extra tenths or milliseconds that we might need either in qualifying or race pace.

“So not change too much of what we did last year. I was pretty happy with how everybody worked and everybody achieved really strong results last year. The pitstop guys, the engineers, myself, what I was able to accomplish was really good, so we just need to work on that and the next step is winning races.”

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