Simon Pagenaud focused on 2019 after finding gains in recent Sebring test

Team Penske's Simon Pagenaud says he is fully focused on improving his speed heading into the 2019 season, in the wake of finding recent gains at a private test at Sebring International Raceway.

The 2016 IndyCar champion endured a tough 2018 campaign after struggling to understand and acclimatise to the new universal aerokit for the DW12 Dallara chassis.

Pagenaud claimed just two podiums, at Texas and Toronto, and placed a low-key sixth in the championship standings.

“I wouldn’t say 2018 was disappointing,” Pagenaud told IndyCar.com. “It wasn’t up to my expectation or the team’s expectation, for sure, but at the end of the day, we had a strong second half of the year.

"We finished sixth in the championship after a really tough start. Going over the whole season in detail, it wasn’t as bad as it looked. We raced very well, the guys did a fantastic job in the pits, and we basically tried to understand this new car. We’re still learning it."

"We now know where to focus better. It’s just been a tough acclimation to this new car, and that’s it. It’s very competitive, and we had a bad start to the season.

"Once you have a bad start, it’s hard to recover. From Detroit on, we actually scored well. There were quite a few races I should have won, but I made mistakes. Overall, we showed improvement."

The Frenchman was quick to consign his 2018 campaign to history and also acknowledged the level of competition in the IndyCar series, recognising the impact of just a single difficult weekend.

“Quite frankly, I’ve moved on," he said. "I understood why we didn’t have the competitiveness we had in ‘16 and ‘17. Some of it was the change in the car, but other than that, the racing was really good.

"Our race craft was really good, maybe even better than it was in previous years. You just have to use the good points and the bad points and understand and move forward. That’s what we’re doing.”

"It’s super competitive right now, one bad step in your march toward the weekend, and you’re going backward.

"It’s a really tough situation for everybody, but that’s what IndyCar is all about. We all have the same cars and the same equipment. You have to find little things. It’s all about the details and getting all of those little things just right. That’s what we plan to do in ‘19."