“I know I say this a lot, but considering I missed three days of testing, I would say it has gone quite well.” Christian Lundgaard may be getting repetitive, but for good reason. His complete lack of testing time in 2020 handed him a significant disadvantage at the start of the season, and yet, he is currently sitting pretty in third place.
The Dane missed pre-season testing in Bahrain, as he was quarantined at a hotel in Spain with members of the Renault Academy team. This meant he had to work harder than anyone else in the field to prepare himself for the season.
Ultimately, this appears to have paid off the ART Grand Prix driver. Lundgaard scored his maiden F2 victory in just the third race of the season in Spielberg, having already taken three straight points’ finishes prior to that.
“I hadn’t been in the cars for like seven months,” he began. “But, in Free Practice I was already P5, and only two and a half tenths off the pace. That was quite surprising.
“I would say it has gone better than I expected so far. I know everyone had at least four months between testing and Round 1, but I hadn’t been in the car since Abu Dhabi, and I hadn’t driven the 18-inch tyres. To be straight on the pace like that was very positive.
“I was a bit worried, because I hadn’t been in the car for so long and I didn’t know what understeer or oversteer felt like anymore. I had to refresh my memory of that feeling and, in the end, I didn’t even really notice that it had ever been missing, and I was quite happy about that.”
We barely saw a drop of rain across the whole of 2019, which meant that Lundgaard was unable to show off his skills in the wet. Turns out, the ART racer loves it. He has looked amongst the very best on the grid in the rain, daring to push the track limits, when others would not.
“It is weird,” he explained. “We are in the middle of the summer and half of the races have already been 'are we driving in the wet, or are we driving in the dry?' Normally it is not a question, it is just dry.
“I was always quick in the wet, as far back as karting. My first international win was actually in the wet, so I think that has something to do with it. I have been comfortable in the wet this year, trying to find the limits, sometimes exceeding them...
“I think - but I am not sure - that it looks like it could rain a bit here on Saturday, so it is quite strange that all of our weekends have involved rain - but I am not complaining, I love the wet.”
It is a continual learning curve for Lundgaard. Round 3 took place on his favourite track on the F2, calendar: the Hungaroring in Budapest. He took his first Formula 3 win in Race 1 in Hungary last year, but endured a torrid weekend this time around, retiring in the Feature Race, and finishing in 13th in the Sprint.
He knows he has more to give, and one area Lundgaard knows will be key, is the management of the new 18-inch tyres.
“The tyres are clearly a bit different this year,” he began. “I think that we are beginning to understand them.
“Obviously, that is important, because it is still the beginning of the season, but we are getting further into it now. We are in rounds 4 to 6 now, which is another triple header, so it is important that we understand the tyres.”