By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing announced Wednesday that Formula 2 driver Christian Lundgaard will be replacing Takuma Sato’s seat in the No. 30 Honda.
The Danish racer made a good impression in the Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix at Indianapolis, qualifying fourth in his lone start to date. Lundgaard ultimately finished 12th in the No. 45 Honda that’ll be driven full-time by Jack Harvey.
Although his focus for the rest of 2021 will be in F2, the ART Grand Prix competitor is excited to sign a multi-year deal and join the squad that won the 2020 Indianapolis 500.
“They are a fantastic team who made me feel very welcome earlier this year when I made my debut in the series,” said Lundgaard. “They are the perfect choice and I’m happy to join them on this next chapter in my career. I was very much open minded when I raced at Indianapolis in August and the experience then only grew my hunger to give it another go, so to have the opportunity as a full-time professional racing driver is a privilege.
“I can only thank Bobby (Rahal), Piers (Phillips) and the team, as well as my investors and Alpine for putting it all together. I’m determined to repay that faith with on-track performances beginning when the season starts in February.
“Of course, this will be a completely new challenge for me, especially with oval racing, which I’ve never done before,” Lundgaard continued. “I’d like to think I’m a fast learner, so taking this on is going to be an awesome experience. For now, I’m not setting too many expectations other than working hard and enjoying the racing and hopefully the results will follow.
“For now, though, my focus is on finishing the Formula 2 Championship before fully committing to taking on INDYCAR. I can’t wait for the experience to begin.”
With two F2 grand prix weekends remaining, Lundgaard currently sits 11th in the Drivers’ Championship. So far, Lundgaard has scored three podium finishes, including a runner-up in the second sprint race at Bahrain.
Last season, he finished seventh in points with two sprint race wins at the Red Bull Ring and Mugello.
Co-owner Bobby Rahal is pleased of having Lundgaard for the next several years with belief that his efforts at Indianapolis is just the beginning.
“For him to do the job (at Indy), he did was tremendous and certainly beyond our expectations. With a little more time under his belt, I think the performance would have been even stronger,” said Rahal of the 20-year-old.
“Everyone within the team was very pleased and it created a lot of excitement and positive reactions from the fans on social media and online as well as a positive buzz in the paddock. Some may not know, but he had food poisoning so he wasn’t feeling 100 percent that day and yet to have the kind of weekend we had was great.
“I look forward to a long relationship with Christian. He’s a great young man who fit well with the team immediately and we are all excited about what we can do together.”
Wednesday’s announcement also meant Lundgaard officially becomes the second rookie competitor, joining Juncos Hollinger Racing’s Callum Ilott. Both will compete the entire 17-race campaign, including the 106th Indianapolis 500.
In the eyes of Honda Performance Development’s President and Technical Director David Salters, there’s certainly a youth movement in the sport.
“Great to see a ‘youth movement’ in INDYCAR and high quality talent transfer from F2 and F1 programs,” said Salters. “From Honda’s perspective, it’s delightful to see the upward trajectory of INDYCAR with a super competitive field, we relish this as we race to challenge ourselves through competition.
“We look forward to watching Christian continue to develop and perform in the NTT IndyCar Series in 2022.”