Christian Lundgaard, RLL, IndyCar, 2021

IndyCar’s “pure racing” is what F1 was like before I was born – Lundgaard

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Christian Lundgaard says he saw the opportunity to do “pure racing” in IndyCar after signing to drive for Rahal Letterman Lanigan once he completes his Formula 2 season.

The 20-year-old, who is a member of the Alpine driver academy, faced a lack of shortage of options to progress his career after the end of the season. He said he considered moving into sports car racing before deciding to relocate his career to America.

He has joined ex-F2 racer Callum Ilott in securing a full-time IndyCar seat for next year. With only one place left on the grid for the 2022 Formula 1 season, Lundgaard expects to see more F2 drivers consider moving into IndyCar.

“I’m sure there will be more European drivers coming over here, let’s say, pre-F1,” he said. “Nowadays we’ve seen a lot of ex-F1 drivers come over, but I still believe that it’s something you can take as a step towards F1.

“For me the series is great. Looking at me and Callum, we’ve competed in F2, we know each other, and over here it’s pure racing. I like the racing over here, that’s what attracts me, the racing itself, so I’m definitely positive for next year.”

His team principal Bobby Rahal, a three-times CART champion who started two grands prix in 1978, believes “IndyCar is what Formula 1 used to be, to a large degree.”

“Clearly we don’t have the politics,” he explained. “There’s a lot of things that don’t exist in the IndyCar paddock that exist in the Formula 1 paddock.

“You look at how many really good guys are in F2 who maybe are frustrated now because they can’t make that next step, and yet they’ve kind of proven their abilities.

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“If I’m a young guy in Europe I think the potential for my career is much greater here in IndyCar than it is there.

Feature: Lundgaard impresses with race-leading IndyCar debut despite food poisoning
“I fully expect, as we once had a number of years ago where we had a number of Europeans and Brazilians in IndyCar racing, I see a greater representation from countries in Europe, countries in South America towards IndyCar.”

Lundgaard showed his potential in the series by qualifying on the second row of the grid, alongside ex-F1 driver and IndyCar rookie Romain Grosjean, in a one-off appearance for RLL at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. He echoed Rahal’s take on the series.

“What IndyCar is now is probably what I would think F1 was before I was born,” said Lundgaard. “It’s the proper racing I want to do.

“I spoke to some drivers a few days ago that have been in IndyCar and they say here you come, you enjoy, you like driving. But [at] first, when you begin in Europe, you have the proper feeling of racing that you enjoy, but the more you do it you kind of die, the spirit die[s].

“Where for me, over here, it just continues. That’s what I had when I came for the race in August, that this is just so different. It’s a complete new spark that just fired in me, and I wanted to continue with that.

“I think it will. I’m pretty sure it will. IndyCar is the place to be, and I’m perfectly happy with where I am with RLL.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 20 comments on “IndyCar’s “pure racing” is what F1 was like before I was born – Lundgaard”

    1. Ambrogio Isgro
      20th October 2021, 22:08

      I remember when drivers from F3000 didnt find seats in F1, due to lack of sponsors, and they continued their careers in Indycar/IRL. Kenny Brack, Bruno Junqueira, Gil De Ferran, Nicolas Minassian and so on…
      Now is the same and I feel that the Indycar its better than FE to prove your talent.

      1. The cars in FE are slow, sound hideous, and they race in parking lots. IndyCar has a great driver lineup, tons of history, the fastest cars next to F1 (and will be faster with the new engine regulations) and you have a chance to win the biggest race in the world! It’s a no brainer where to go.

        1. Japan’s Super Formula actually has the fastest cars next to F1, but it’s almost impossible to watch…

        2. Super Formula is faster than Indycar, at least based on 2019 where they both shared tracks with F1.

          I compared the Pole Position laps and fastest laps from Suzuka and COTA and Super Formula was down ~10 and ~11 percent and Indycar ~15 and ~13 percent respectively.

        3. Don,

          “IndyCar….. the fastest cars next to F1”

          Sorry to have to correct you again but Indy cars are about the same speed as an F2 car, besides being 14% slower than a F1 car it’s also slower than Le Mans LMP1 cars (7%) and Super Formula (@exediron ).

        4. you have a chance to win the biggest race in the world!

          Monaco? Le Mans?

        5. Don, as others have pointed out, you have repeatedly made this assertion, but have never attempted to offer any evidence to back up any of your claims. If you are so convinced of your statement, instead of repeatedly spamming multiple threads with the same claims, why don’t you actually do us a favour and try to provide some evidence for your claims for once?

          The evidence from comparisons at other venues have indicated that a Japanese Super Formula car is quite a bit faster than an IndyCar. We have also had times in the past where IndyCar did race in Japan at the same venue as Super Formula cars were using, and the times that they were setting were several seconds slower than what the Japanese Super Formula cars did – back in 2011 at Motegi, the pole position time from the IndyCar race was about 3 seconds slower than the slowest Super Formula driver and about five seconds slower than pole in the Super Formula race.

      2. Both Indycar and Formula E have become the series’ you go to if you can’t get into F1 for whatever reason. It’s very much their gain and F1’s lose.

    2. I don’t watch a lot of IndyCar but what I see/hear doesn’t resemble what I liked about F1 20+ years ago.

      1. Out of curiosity, what was it you liked about F1 that you feel is lacking in IndyCar?

        I’m not saying you’re wrong, I just genuinely want to know.

        1. The CART days were great and did challenge F1. Now as a single make series there just isn’t the innovation that makes a series technically really interesting. Hopefully the cars will be opened up a bit in the not too distant future.

          On another topic

          ..member of the Alpine driver academy, faced a lack of shortage of options to progress his career…

          Might want to correct the sense of that Keith by deleting the ‘of shortage’ bit.

        2. What I liked about F1 20+ years ago:
          – technical marvels (still valid, but you have to be a bit of a nerd to appreciate it);
          – best drivers in the world (still valid, although IndyCar is improving)
          – racing in all conditions (F1 has lost that as well with too many Red Flags, I think Le Mans is now better in that respect).

          Very early on I also liked (a bit ashamed to admit) the danger and accidents (much younger then), and the whole circus around it.
          Both not important anymore to me and neither a big difference between both series.

          1. I think one thing that’s gone missing is the consequences for mistakes. Not necessarily accidents but gravel traps. This had the secondary benefit of making results unpredictable. Nowadays with the almost perfect reliability of cars and the enormous runoff areas, the whole grid will by and large finish the race in the order of fastest car to slowest car. This was not the case in the past. And as I said, the reliability also meant the race wasn’t over until it was over.

            1. Agree, that is certainly a part I want back.

      2. It’s very true. Let’s say 30 years ago F1 had a period with the largest number of competitors but the gaps between them were massive and the cars were mostly very unreliable. The things that stood out were the rivalries between the big names (who took almost all of the wins) and the crazy rate of technological progress and the front of the field.

        1. Rob (@realnigelmansell)
          21st October 2021, 2:56

          He may have been referring to the driving itself, f1 driving seems very micromanaged and focused on tire preservation now. Saying this as someone who prefers f1 to indycar. Indycar could be better if the races were less chaotic but at the moment it feels like watching a lottery much of the time.

          1. That’s true, but then again Indycar is all about fuel reservation. The 500 is won on fuel strategy almost every year. The Firestones seem to hold up endlessly.

            There is no all out motorsport (well, circuit racing, hi NHRA) currently, pushing the limits of the equipment and driver lap after lap until something gives or the race ends.

            I think Mika v Schumi was the last era in F1 we had that, they’d do quali laps all stints, sometimes throwing in an extra stint compare to others and just blast the opposition

            1. I depended on the track though. If fuel load made a big difference they could do those short fast stints on low fuel particularly as massive gaps could be opened up to the midfield. If fuel load was a relatively insignificant they would stretch out a one stop on heavy fuel, conserving fuel and tyres and unleashing the fast times on empty tanks in the laps before a pitstop.

    3. It’s an inevitable; and somewhat exciting consequence of the metaphorical dam being built between F1 and F2 by the teams’ academies that the glut of talent pouring into F2 is going to have to look at other series’ as a way to progress beyond F1. While the F1 grid is being filled with ever younger debutants who can legitimately stay there for a decade and beyond, there simply isn’t the turnover that there needs to be in order to accommodate the talent coming through.

      It won’t be a problem every year. 2019 for example when the best F2 had to offer was Nyck De Vries and Nicholas Latifi. But you only have to look at what’s bubbling up again this year with Piastri, Pourchaire, Shwartzman, Vips and then next year with Hauger. The dam is about to build up some more pressure soon, and it’ll have to go somewhere. I think Indycar is about to experience a bit of a boom.

      1. Does IndyCar really want a glut of young European drivers? IndyCar is very much personality driven with relatable drivers for its largely domestic audience (including NZ and UK drivers in this). At the end of the day its a business. Look at Jimmy Johnson. Fair play to him for improving (and recently that is worthy of note for sure), but he’s there because of who is is, not what he brings in terms of speed.

        Where’s the story behind a bunch of relatively wealthy young Europeans coming to America. The ‘hook’ isn’t there. So I wouldn’t be too hasty in thinking IndyCar will be overly happy about this.

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