Felix Rosenqvist came out on top as his NTT IndyCar Series career and the 2019 season began with the first practice outing of the season-opening visit to the streets of St. Petersburg.
Now teamed with reigning champion Scott Dixon at Chip Ganassi Racing, Rosenqvist laid down a 1:01.8215 lap of the 1.8-mile temporary street circuit to outdo his 23 competitors and place the No. 10 NTT Data Honda atop the timesheet at the start of the event.
A considerable 0.2421 seconds back from Rosenqvist, Florida resident Ryan Hunter-Reay was the top Andretti Autosport representative in a slightly slower first session than took place at St. Petersburg a year ago when Matheus Leist lapped 0.0984 seconds quicker than Rosenqvist in their respective IndyCar debuts.
Nearly kicking off 2019 by completing a Swedish sweep, Marcus Ericsson was displaced to the third position following Hunter-Reay’s late-session improvement. Last year’s championship rivals Dixon and Alexander Rossi competed the top five, which was split by 0.3255 seconds.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver Takuma Sato made it six Hondas atop the Practice 1 results sheet and was followed by Josef Newgarden who went quickest for both Team Penske and Chevrolet.
Graham Rahal, Zach Veach and Newgarden’s stablemate Will Power filled the rest of the top 10. Sebastien Bourdais, winner at St. Pete the last two years, competed the first session 11th ahead of Simon Pagenaud and James Hinchcliffe, the last two drivers to lap within a half-second of Rosenqvist.
Max Chilton placed 23rd out of 24, 1.0850 seconds back from the leading pace and ahead of only DragonSpeed newcomer Ben Hanley who was 3.1126 seconds off Rosenqvist and caused a session-ending red flag within the final minute of the session.
Following the first 385 laps of the season, the IndyCar field will return to the track from 2:20–3:05 p.m. EST Friday for a second 45-minute practice.