Arrow McLaren SP reckons new signing and ex-Formula 1 driver Alexander Rossi underpins its strategy to become a “consistent race winner and championship contender” in IndyCar after unveiling the ex-Andretti Autosport driver on Thursday.
Rossi entered IndyCar off the back of his only F1 race outings with Manor Marussia in 2015, and won the Indianapolis 500 at his first attempt in 2016.
From 2016-19 he racked up seven wins and six pole positions at Andretti, and elected to stay after a high-profile silly season where Penske reportedly showed interest.
Since signing that deal Rossi has failed to win or score a pole position in the series with ninth and 10th in the championship, although that form clearly hasn’t troubled Arrow McLaren SP which has paired him with Pato O’Ward as its confirmed drivers for 2023.
“First, I want to thank everyone at Andretti Autosport for an incredible seven years,” said Rossi, who has already been replaced at the team by rookie sensation Kyle Kirkwood.
“It has been a great ride with an awesome team, and it has been an honor to race for the Andretti name and for Michael [Andretti] for so long.
“The time has come for a new challenge, with a team that is growing in the sport. I look forward to contributing to the development of Arrow McLaren SP and helping them reach the top.
“I see the commitment this team has to each other and to me, and I’m looking forward to getting started. It’s time for me to race for another one of motorsport’s biggest names: McLaren.”
Rossi is 11th in the points this year, boosted by a strong showing in the double-points Indy 500 where he finished fifth from 20th on the grid.
The Indy 500 has been a high priority for McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown, which might be one of the key reasons he signed the 30-year-old.
“Alex is a proven race winner and an Indianapolis 500 champion, who shares our desire to win,” added Brown.
“It is essential that we put the right talent in place, both inside and outside the car, so we can consistently compete for championships and race wins as a team.
“He [Rossi] is someone we have had our eye on for some time and we’re excited to see what he’ll do as a part of Arrow McLaren SP.”
Attention now turns to Felix Rosenqvist’s seat at McLaren.
The team is expanding to three-full-time entries for 2023 and, with O’Ward and Rossi signed, Rosenqvist is the only remaining driver with an uncertain future.
A strong Indy 500 has likely helped his case, along with some impressive performances in 2022 now that the Arrow McLaren SP car is easier to drive.
The team has reportedly looked into signing Rinus VeeKay from Ed Carpenter Racing, although VeeKay has struggled for form in May just when Rosenqvist has taken a step up.