2019 IndyCar Review: Another bridesmaid campaign for Alexander Rossi
The 2019 NTT IndyCar Series witnessed a stunning year of highs and lows for everyone involved over the course of 17 races, Motorsport Week reflects on some of the key moments which encapsulated the gripping season. Next, we look at Alexander Rossi's fourth year in IndyCar.
Rossi arrived in the IndyCar Series in 2016 on the back of a difficult reserve role in Formula 1 the year before. During his debut campaign, he took a shock win at the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 and has since taken the series by storm during the ensuing seasons and is now considered one of the series' top drivers.
After narrowly missing out on the 2018 IndyCar title, following a collision with Andretti Autosport team-mate Marco Andretti at the final race in Sonoma, he vowed to do better and be more consistent to go one better in 2019.
He did just that! Just one finish outside the top six up until the final four races – which included a stunning battle with Simon Pagenaud at the Indianapolis 500 – taking the fight right to the chequered flag. But the Honda engine just could not match the top speeds of the Chevrolet, allowing the Frenchman to pip the Rossi to the line, halting the Californian driver's charge to take a second Indy 500 victory.
As the season continued, so did his consistency, especially at Road America where he was able to completely decimate the opposition by winning the race by almost an utterly unbelievable 30 seconds at the chequered flag. It was an imperious victory and left him only seven points away from Newgarden at the top of the standings.
However, just three races later at Pocono, his title charge took a dramatic hit after he was caught up in a heavy first lap pile-up with team-mate Ryan Hunter-Reay, Takuma Sato and Felix Rosenqvist. Rossi was left furious with Sato after feeling that the Japanese driver had completely swiped him off the race track whilst trying to get into the draft of Scott Dixon en route to Turn 2.
With his title-rivals all finishing inside the top-five, getting back into the battle was always going to be a tall order. A strangely anonymous race at Gateway where he finished in 13th place left Rossi further out-of-touch with two to go.
A podium in Portland was vitally important going to the final race at Laguna Seca, but being level on points with Pagenaud and a need to win the race with the hope that Newgarden would finish much further down the order. The task turned out to be just too much and Rossi finished sixth and would take third place in the Drivers' standings at the end.
It's certainly hard to fault his season, the title appeared to be very possible until the smash at Pocono unravelled all of his hard work throughout the campaign until then.
After two seasons of being the bridesmaid, Rossi is surely going to return with a vengeance with the sole aim of claiming that elusive first IndyCar title.