Alpine Academy driver Christian Lundgaard enjoyed an “amazing” first IndyCar experience at Indianapolis that featured a couple of notable highs.
The 20-year-old Dane has been a full-time Formula 2 racer since the final weekend of the 2019 campaign, finishing seventh in last year’s standings and sitting 12th this season.
With Formula 1 race seats in short supply and fellow Alpine junior Guanyu Zhou currently ahead of him in the pecking order, IndyCar could offer a viable alternative for Lundgaard’s career progression.
He certainly grabbed his surprising debut opportunity, which came for the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing on the Indianapolis road course, joining ex-F1 racer Takuma Sato and co-team owner’s son Graham Rahal in a third car recently driven by Santino Ferrucci.
Although Lundgaard was unable to match any of Ferrucci’s five race finishes this year, ending up 12th, he did have two moments to remember in particular – qualifying fourth and then leading the race before eventually dropping down the order.
— Christian Lundgaard (@lundgaardoff) August 14, 2021
“The weekend was amazing,” said Lundgaard. “I enjoyed every second of it.
“Qualifying itself, to be in the top five out of 28 cars wasn’t expected. And I think it put us in a good position for the race.
“Leading the race at some point was amazing, but it was all about just not doing a mistake and having a clean race and getting through it.
“I rather wanted to do 85 laps than just 60 or so on. The mileage was important to get the experience of the full race. We got through it, and it was tough. It was a long two hours.”
Lundgaard admitted tyre management had been particularly challenging around Indy’s 2.4-mile, 14-turn road course, and he can reflect on a job well done as he heads back to Europe to resume his efforts to push up the F2 standings when the series resumes at Monza in September.
“I think tyre management is probably where I suffered the most, knowing how much I can push and so on. But it’s been a hell of an experience,” he added.
“I guess it went fine, we were probably more on the safe side than the aggressive side. The target was to get through it and not make any mistakes and I think we survived that.
“I’m happy with P12, I got the experience. I’ll go home well rested and with a good experience from America.”