IndyCar: The driver who's been replaced six times in the last year

Arrow McLaren have been searching and searching to find Felix Rosenqvist's replacement. Meanwhile, he has found success elsewhere in IndyCar.
Felix Rosenqvist, Alexander Rossi, Arrow McLaren, IndyCar
Felix Rosenqvist, Alexander Rossi, Arrow McLaren, IndyCar / Sean Gardner/GettyImages

Felix Rosenqvist thought his time at Arrow McLaren might be coming to an end after the 2022 IndyCar season, with the team having signed both Alexander Rossi and Alex Palou to join Pato O'Ward amid an expansion from two to three cars in 2023.

But Palou was retained by Chip Ganassi Racing following a lengthy legal battle, and Rosenqvist got to keep his seat. However, the team moved him from the No. 7 Chevrolet to the new car, the No. 6 Chevrolet, with Rossi replacing him in one of the team's two original numbers.

The small yet significant change indicated that the Swedish driver was still the man on the hot seat heading into 2023, and Palou was indeed set to replace him in 2024.

But this time around, it was Palou who backed out on his deal to join Zak Brown's team, leading to yet another lengthy (and ongoing) legal battle. The 2021 series champion once again remained at Chip Ganassi Racing, and he added a second title in 2023.

The team still decided it was time to move on from Rosenqvist, who has since found a new home at Meyer Shank Racing.

Arrow McLaren turned to ex-Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsports driver David Malukas. But Malukas was injured in a preseason mountain biking accident, and after he missed the season's first four races, a clause was triggered in his contract which allowed the team to move on from him. They opted to do so.

Both Callum Ilott and Theo Pourchaire drove the No. 6 Chevrolet in select races, with Ilott driving it in the Indy 500. Beyond the 108th running of the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing", it was confirmed that Pourchaire would be the entry's new full-time driver, at least throughout the remainder of the 2024 campaign.

But just two races into Pourchaire's planned 12-race stint to conclude the 2024 season, Arrow McLaren turned to Nolan Siegel, whom they believed was sure to sign with a rival if they did not take the opportunity to lock him down now, and Siegel replaced Pourchaire. Sporting director Tony Kanaan reportedly put his job on the line to make it happen.

It finally looks like Arrow McLaren have found a viable full-time replacement for Felix Rosenqvist.

Siegel debuted at Laguna Seca two weekends ago and was the race's biggest mover, going from 23rd to 12th place and even overcoming a mid-race spin in the process.

But despite having been replaced by six different drivers since the start of last season, Rosenqvist has had arguably more success since moving on from the papaya car.

He and Meyer Shank Racing entered the 2024 season with something in common: they were both in need of a major reset.

Following a miserable 2021 season with Arrow McLaren, Rosenqvist's 2022 season and 2023 season were both respectable, with finishes of eighth and 12th place in the championship standings, four pole positions, three podium finishes, and an additional four top five finishes to show for his efforts.

But it was clear that there was very little chemistry between himself and the organization. That they moved him to a new car after being unable to truly replace him following a 2022 campaign in which he fell just one spot shy of O'Ward in the standings demonstrated that, well before the two sides finally parted ways.

As for Meyer Shank Racing, they were in need of a major overhaul after a season during which their lone top 10 result was a 10th place finish at a Texas Motor Speedway track that's no longer on the IndyCar schedule.

While the No. 6 Arrow McLaren team now sits in 15th place in the entrant standings with its own top finish of a relatively lackluster 10th, the Rosenqvist-Meyer Shank Racing pairing has proven productive.

Rosenqvist has experienced a career resurgence in 2024 after his run with McLaren left a lot to be desired. He opened up the season with four top 10 finishes in four races, plus a third place finish in the non-points race at the Thermal Club, and he was Honda's top qualifier in the Indy 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He also took pole on the streets of Long Beach.

Heading into the race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the venue where he secured his first career podium finish five years ago in what was a grandstand finish alongside then-teammate and Mid-Ohio master Scott Dixon, he sits in 10th place in the championship standings, and he is just a stone's throw from ex-Arrow McLaren teammates O'Ward and Rossi. Aside from his Indy 500 engine failure, his worst finish is only 14th.

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Whether or not McLaren remain committed to their driver lineup, which is now set to consist of O'Ward, Siegel, and Christian Lundgaard instead of Rossi for 2025 and beyond, is still up in the air. But one thing has become clear: Rosenqvist no longer has to look over his shoulder.