Sunday, July 14, 2024

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Rossi opens up about Arrow McLaren split and future landing spot

Alexander Rossi says he has come to terms along with his decision to go away Arrow McLaren after a two-year spell following the conclusion of the 2024 IndyCar Series season.

On Tuesday, Rossi and Arrow McLaren confirmed their mutual parting of how, with the team also announcing that 22-year-old Christian Lundgaard, who currently drives for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, will probably be his successor within the Chevrolet-powered No. 7 automotive next yr.

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In some ways the move is surprising considering Rossi only joined the team last season after seven years with Andretti Global.

Despite an evolving program that included several latest team members with no previous IndyCar and even motorsport experience, he managed one podium, six top-five finishes and 11 top-10 finishes in 17 races, good for ninth within the championship.

And the patience he has shown during this phase of his development has began to repay for the California native in the primary eight points-scoring races of the season, with one podium, three top-five finishes and 6 top-10s to now sit seventh overall, just 10 points behind teammate Pato O’Ward in sixth and 12 points behind Andretti’s Kyle Kirkwood in fifth.

So why does a split make sense when the whole lot indicates that the upward trend is favorable?

“I think it was the most business-like negotiation I’ve ever had in this sport and that’s what it came down to in the end,” Rossi told Motorsport.com.

“There really wasn't enough in the center that we felt we could move forward from; it wasn't for lack of effort. It's just the way in which this sport works, which at the top of the day can also be very much a business.

“It's not something negative. It's something that, I think all the conversations I've had with the organization have been positive, but we just couldn't find something that worked for everyone.”

Alexander Rossi, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet

Alexander Rossi, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet

Photo: Perry Nelson / Motorsports images

For Rossi, who has eight profession victories to his name, including the 2016 Indianapolis 500, there was no element missing that might prevent him from achieving the success he desired when he joined the team in 2023.

The growth of the organization, coupled with the proven fact that his only previous understanding of how Andretti Global and Honda operated, meant there was a learning curve for everybody involved.

“I had a very specific way of doing things and I had to learn a slightly different approach and a different way of spending the race weekend to make the car go fast,” said Rossi, who made five Formula One starts in 2015 before joining IndyCar the next yr.

“If anything, it's definitely made me a greater driver, but that doesn't occur in three races. In this series, very small differences add up lots when qualifying is a couple of tenths (of a second) between the highest 10.

“So I would say last year was just catching up. And this year was kind of putting everything we've learned into practice. So far, we've done that, and every time we get back on track, we're getting better.”

Alexander Rossi, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet

Alexander Rossi, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet

Photo: Perry Nelson / Motorsports images

Rossi is now focused on doing whatever it takes to assist himself and O'Ward lead the team to a top-five championship finish over their last nine races together.

Additionally, Rossi realises how necessary it’s to make this decision mid-season.

“You never want to be in August having those conversations,” Rossi said. “We’ve seen over the previous few years that that is the time of yr when things start to select up.

“We’re having a lot of conversations right now and it’s all very exciting.”

As for where he’ll call home next, that hasn’t been decided yet.

“There’s nothing in an envelope somewhere, if that’s what you’re asking,” said Rossi, the runner-up within the 2018 championship. “We’re at different points in the conversation with a few different people, but no, there’s no pen, paper or anything like that.”

While Rossi doesn't shrink back from taking up the role of team leader wherever he finds himself, it's not something “that would scare me if I wasn't This guy.”

The priority is just finding the most effective environment to suit his needs, and he knows exactly what he’s searching for in the subsequent chapter of his IndyCar profession.

Alexander Rossi, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet, Marcus Ericsson, Andretti Global Honda

Alexander Rossi, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet, Marcus Ericsson, Andretti Global Honda

Photo: Art Fleischmann

“It's simple,” Rossi said. “It's a spot where I can exit and fight for the championship, knowing I actually have a probability to win one other 500.

“I feel that's at all times necessary to us as individuals. I do know that appears like a straightforward answer, however it's really the motivating factor for doing this. You don't do it to call yourself a racing driver, you don't do it to only show up and have it as a job. You do it because you like the competition and you like going out and fighting for wins.

“You speak about my time at Andretti and McLaren and my evolution as a driver. I feel the chance to drive for those two organisations taught me lots.

“For seven years I assumed there was just one method to do things because I only drove for one team and I realised in a short time that that wasn’t the case. I feel it allowed me to develop lots on and off the track and that may only repay in the long run.

“I don't look back on any of those decisions with any regrets. It was just a matter of not agreeing, and that's how life and things are sometimes.”

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