Christian Lundgaard has made it known that even though he will be a rookie in the NTT IndyCar Series this year, he is fighting for more than just the Rookie of the Year award.
In fact, the young Danish driver has his sights set on the overall championship despite only having a single race start under his belt.
That race on the Indianapolis road course last year showed that he adapted well to the series, qualifying fourth and finishing in the top half of the field despite having very little seat time and having never set foot on the famous track before race weekend.
Lundgaard will be among five talented rookies battling for the Rookie of the Year in 2022, but the newest member of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing is already setting his sights even higher than that.
“The rookie championship is one thing, but there’s also a main championship to win. I’m not going to say that I’m going to, but I’m going to try and hard as I can to.
“I race to win. I don’t race to finish second or third. But we’ve got a good lineup in the team, and I’m sure if we can learn from each other – Graham [Rahal] is a strong racer, and if I can extract as much from him as possible, I think we have a very strong lineup.”
One of the areas Lundgaard will have to focus on is the management of the Firestone tires, which behave quite differently than the Pirelli rubber used in Formula 2, where he spent his last two years.
Due to limited testing time and the absence of the softer, red-walled tires during tests, he can only prepare so much before the first race of the year in late February.
The 20-year-old is confident that he can learn quickly, however, and it won’t take him very long to have a handle on every aspect of the car.
“Yes and no,” continued Lundgaard when asked if he’s been able to work on tire management in the offseason. “I haven’t really done a long run in the car since [my race in Indianapolis] because my first day in the car was five days ago.
“I think we’ve focused more on getting comfortable in the car and so on, but it’s definitely something we’ll have to work on just after the first race.
“After the race last year, I knew already more than I did before. I think if I would have redone the race on Monday or technically on the Sunday [because the race was Saturday afternoon], it would have been a completely different result.
“I’m happy about that, having the knowledge, but it’s about putting it on the track, and that’s the next step.”