F2 ‘Loanee’ Lundgaard Amazes In First Ever IndyCar Qualifying

ART GP driver Christian Lundgaard makes his much-anticipated NTT IndyCar Series debut at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend, with the Alpine Academy member being loaned out to the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team after a trying season in Formula 2 so far for the promising 20-year-old Dane.

By Matt Jeffray

Coming off the back of a 7th place finish in last year’s Formula 2 campaign, Lundgaard’s two podiums this year leaves him only 12th in the standings. But needless to say, his debut on the other side of the pond with an unfamiliar chassis and also being his first time around the Brickyard road course couldn’t have gone much better, qualifying a sensational 4th after showing strong pace all weekend.

When asked about how he’s managed to fit in so quickly to racing stateside, Lundgaard couldn’t really pinpoint an exact reason. 

“It’s Difficult to say,” the Alpine Academy member told selected media including F1 Feeder Series after Friday’s qualifying session. “I’m just enjoying myself and seeing all the opportunities I have, trying to grab them obviously. But it’s always about going out there and giving it your all. 

“For me, it’s just amazing to be here and to prove myself. I think it’s looking good so far. But I didn’t expect to be here now.”

The freedom of joining a new series halfway through the season is something that’s rubbing off well on Lundgaard, with the Alpine protege enjoying the lack of pressure and being able to enjoy the racing without expectation. 

Credit: Travis Hinkle, IndyCar Media

“I’m enjoying myself so far. I think the lap time and the position shows that, as well. I’m not looking for anything. I’m looking to gain experience and learn as much as I can. Obviously, hopefully do a good job.”

One of the first things that drivers comment on when moving from Formula racing in Europe to racing in North America is the vast difference in atmosphere and paddock culture. Lundgaard was quick to notice how open the access is stateside compared the confined nature of garages at the circuits he’s used to. 

“Honestly, when I’m down at the paddock, I’m just confused because it’s so different. Obviously F1 and F2, we got garages and so on. But here the people are just walking around the cars, it’s amazing to see. I’m just enjoying it. I think every second I spend here I like it more and more.”

As for the all-important race later this evening, Lundgaard will be looking to extract as much as he can from the very unfamiliar warm up session, as he looks to build on the limited track time he’s had in an Indycar prior to his maiden race. 

“I haven’t driven a sim that has this specific layout. I only did the iRacing one which has the F1 circuit that they drove on. Obviously turn one for the Indy 500, the oval track, is the last corner we went on the banking. The track that I basically prepared myself for was a different track.

“But showing up this morning, the first run in FP, practice, was getting to know the track really. I knew what to expect from the car at that point but not the track. It was just making sure that I stayed on track and got the basics covered.

“The warm-up is also new to me, to do a warmup before a race. I’ve never done that. But sure, definitely. I think the more laps I get in the car, the better. Yeah, it’s something that we’ll look at to be sure we have covered for the race.”

The Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix goes green today at 17:30 BST.

Credit header image: Chris Jones, IndyCar Media

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