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Rosenqvist “ready to move up,” says Ganassi’s Mike Hull

Chip Ganassi Racing’s team director Mike Hull says the team was impressed with Indy Lights ace Felix Rosenqvist at the Mid-Ohio test yesterday and described the Swede as “terrifically talented.”

Felix Rosenqvist, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Race winner Felix Rosenqvist, Belardi Auto Racing
Felix Rosenqvist, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Mike Hull, Chip Ganassi Racing
Felix Rosenqvist, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Podium: race winner Felix Rosenqvist, Belardi Auto Racing, second place André Negrao, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, third place Kyle Kaiser, Juncos Racing
Felix Rosenqvist, Belardi Auto Racing with Stefan Johansson
Start: Felix Rosenqvist, Belardi Auto Racing leads
Felix Rosenqvist, Belardi Auto Racing
Podium: winner Felix Rosenqvist, Prema Powerteam, second place Antonio Giovinazzi, Jagonya Ayam with Carlin, third place Lance Stroll, Prema Powerteam
Podium: winner Felix Rosenqvist, Prema Powerteam
Felix Rosenqvist, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet

During the test, Rosenqvist shared the #9 Ganassi-Chevrolet with reigning champion Scott Dixon, driving the car in the morning session, and completing a race distance around the 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio SportsCar Course.

Hull, speaking from Lime Rock where he’ll oversee the Ganassi Ford GTs for this weekend’s IMSA race, told Motorsport.com: “I’m going by what [Dixon’s race engineer] Chris Simmons told me, and he was very impressed. Felix ran over 90 laps, more than a race distance, and didn’t put a wheel wrong. After familiarizing himself with the differences between an Indy car and all the other cars he’s driven – primarily the power, the steering and the downforce level – he got after it. And by the sounds of it, he took right to it.

“He was quick on sticker [new] tires but was also quick on tires that had 30 laps on them. So it sounds like it was a very, very successful test and I think we found out that Felix is a terrifically talented guy, and the races and championships he’s won globally were not by accident.”

Rosenqvist currently lies only seventh in the Indy Lights championship, having missed three of the 13 races held so far due to European commitments. However, he has scored three wins, too, and dominated last weekend at Toronto. Given his test form, Hull said it would be unnecessary for Rosenqvist to complete a second year of Lights, to try and secure the title.

“I think he’s ready to move up,” said Hull. “If you look at his results in several other championships, he’s been a success at every level.”

Rosenqvist equally impressed by the team

Rosenqvist, who races for Belardi Auto Racing in Indy Lights, said he was made welcome by the Ganassi team despite his novice status.

He told IndyCar.com: “I feel really privileged to work with these guys. They’ve been so friendly and helpful with everything.

“It’s always easy to feel like a nobody when you come into a team like this, but they’ve been really humble and answered all my stupid questions.”

Describing his first taste of an Indy car, the 24-year-old said: “The car was incredible to drive, unlike anything I’ve driven. There’s so much downforce and so much grip, it’s crazy.

“It was really fun and I think we had a good test. We got up to speed quite quickly.”  

The Stroll connection

Hull told Motorsport.com that it was Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll who alerted the Ganassi team to Rosenqvist’s potential, last winter, after Stroll’s son Lance was teammates with Rosenqvist in European Formula 3.

“When we were at Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, we ran Lance in one of the Daytona Prototypes, and at that time Lawrence talked to Chip and I about Felix who had been an enormous help to Lance in F3. Lawrence said, ‘Man, this kid is really special. If you ever have a test day to run him, it would be great if you could.’ And we said, ‘OK, if the opportunity presents itself, we’ll try and do that.’

“Stefan Johansson [Scott Dixon’s manager] also represents Felix so that helped. We spoke to Stefan and asked if Felix could be available on July 21, and Stefan said yes, so we got it organized. And I’m glad it did come about because it was well worth doing.

Asked if Rosenqvist was a potential candidate for a Ganassi seat should Tony Kanaan quit or become an Indy 500-only driver, Hull said: “We don’t have a secretive plan going on here. It was just an opportunity and I think it was worthwhile.

“These tests should be about Indy Lights drivers anyway, whether you run a Lights team like Sam [Schmidt] and Michael [Andretti], or whether like us you can share your car with an Indy Lights driver. It’s a great opportunity for us to gauge the next generation and for these young drivers to discover what they can expect at this level.”

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