Continuing our driver review series of the top 20 drivers of the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series championship, we are now into our single-driver reviews until reaching Will Power, the 2022 IndyCar Series champion.
Here, we will focus on Alexander Rossi, the ninth placed driver in the championship points.
Alexander Rossi began the final year of his Andretti Autosport contract with two finishes of 20th or worse. He ended the year with four top-10 finishes in the final five races, including a win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. Talk about a turnaround.
That win was Rossi’s first since Road America in 2019. It was also his last as a driver for Michael Andretti’s team. Earlier in the season, Rossi announced his move to Arrow McLaren SP for 2023, a move that would be a welcome change of scenery for the 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner.
Rossi’s last few years in IndyCar were full of hope and fast cars but without the results to match. After coming so close to IndyCar titles in 2018 and 2019, Rossi finished ninth, 10th and ninth in IndyCar points the last three seasons.
Despite having five top-five finishes, misfortune found a way to curtail Rossi’s title hopes in 2022. In March at Texas Motor Speedway, an electrical issue revealed itself a handful of laps in the race. It was a very short day as the No. 27 Honda coasted slowly back to the pits, completing only 11 laps. To add insult to injury, IndyCar had assessed Rossi a penalty for jumping the start.
In July, things got even worse for the 2008 Formula BMW Americas champion. At Mid-Ohio, Andretti Autosport had perhaps one of their worst weekends with numerous collisions between teammates. Rossi was involved in a couple of those incidents, one of which sent Devlin DeFrancesco off track. As a result of that incident, IndyCar handed Rossi a pit lane drive-through penalty for avoidable contact.
One week later in Toronto, Felix Rosenqvist was overtaking Rossi on Lap 44 when he counter-steered his car into Rossi’s going through Turn 3. The resulting contact sent Rossi into the wall exiting the corner. After two more disappointing races at Iowa Speedway, things finally went right for Rossi at the IMS road course in July.
Colton Herta damaged his gearbox by running over the Turn 8 curb with the center of the car. That allowed Rossi to pick up the lead and he held off Christian Lundgaard for the win. However, IndyCar discovered that Rossi’s car was underweight in post-race technical inspection. Rossi’s car did meet minimum weight from a sporting perspective, but the rules state that teams may not use the drink system as ballast. When that system was no longer on the car, it was underweight.
The win stood, but IndyCar assessed Rossi and his team a 20 point penalty. That penalty ultimately prevented Rossi from finishing eighth in points. Looking ahead, 2023 brings a new beginning with Pato O’Ward and Rosenqvist as teammates.