Arrow McLaren SP made IndyCar headlines ahead of the 2020 season when it made the bold decision to sign two near-rookies to its lineup instead of veteran James Hinchcliffe. Now, the team has done something similar in opting against re-signing No. 7 driver Oliver Askew in exchange for Patricio O’Ward and, reportedly, Felix Rosenqvist.
Askew’s future at Arrow McLaren has been up in the air for a while, but his inability to contest several races due to concussion-like symptoms that he attempted to mask after an Indy 500 crash seemed to seal the deal. Prior to that, he’d secured a podium and led the rookie standings for the 2020 season—a pretty impressive feat in a year of chaos and reduced track time for just about everyone.
“We believe that Oliver has a great deal of talent and potential for the future,” team co-owner Sam Schmidt said. “He has had an incredibly difficult rookie year, with a lack of overall track time and recent medical issues. We want to give Oliver the time to pursue new opportunities for 2021.”
If he’s medically cleared to race, Askew will contest next weekend’s season finale at St. Petersburg, which would be his home race. If not, it’s likely that Helio Castroneves will take his seat again.
In fact, many people—myself included—had pegged Castroneves as a logical replacement for Askew in 2021. Arrow McLaren SP could benefit from the experience of a veteran driver, and Castroneves has been looking to land a seat outside of Team Penske next year.
So the announcement that current Chip Ganassi Racing driver Felix Rosenqvist would be taking over Askew’s seat came as something of a surprise. At least, that’s what rumor is telling us—CGR is interested in Rosenqvist, but multiple other sources are signaling that he’ll partner O’Ward.
It would be a good get by Arrow McLaren. Rosenqvist is still fairly new, but he’s really grown as a driver since his IndyCar debut in 2021. No, he’s not quite on the level of his teammate Scott Dixon, but he’s put up a damn good fight against the championship leader this year and has 2019 won his first race. He has a long future in racing ahead of him, so it would make sense that Arrow McLaren would want to invest in that future.
He’d be partnering O’Ward, who the team has confirmed as being part of their lineup in 2021 and which would make Arrow McLaren’s 2021 effort pretty damn solid. O’Ward and Rosenqvist are two hard-charging young drivers that have really come to epitomize the success of the incoming era of drivers. I can easily see the two of them complimenting each other and bringing one hell of an exciting 2021 season to the table.