ART Grand Prix were still debating when to tell Christian Lundgaard about his 10s time penalty when the Danish racer clocked it, spotting the news on the large TV screens around the circuit. From here, he knew he had to get himself ‘out of trouble’ – having initially tried so hard to stay out of it in the first place.
Despite the 10s penalty, Lundgaard finished second on track in Sprint Race 2 after a stunning late manoeuvre on Guanyu Zhou, having served his punishment in the pits during a fortunately timed Safety Car period.
Though, he didn’t actually appear on the podium, with the FIA needing to confirm that he had taken the 10s properly – he had.
“We tried to stay out of trouble and ended up in trouble,” said Lundgaard. “We then had to sort out the trouble and somehow ended up in more trouble. Even before the team told me, I knew that I had a 10s penalty.
“During a night race, you notice the screens around the track because they’re so bright. I knew that I would be investigated, and I happened to look up at the screen on the left-side of Turn 10 and I saw that it was my on-board and it said ‘Lundgaard 10s penalty.’
“The safety car may have helped us because it helped me to serve the penalty and get out in a decent position, and from there we were able to pull off some decent moves.”
With fewer points available than on a Sunday, and the result not affecting the starting grid of any other race, Lundgaard said he felt he could afford to take some risks, including a brave launch down the outside of race leaders Zhou and Oscar Piastri on the final lap, which very nearly ended with him in the gravel.
“I came from very far behind in that last lap lunge at Turn 1, but I made the apex - it was all easy, honest…
“Overall, it all felt a bit messy for everyone today. I think a lot of drivers wanted to push forwards to gain some positions because you can afford to take more (risks) in race 2 than the other two races. That meant that it was quite messy out there - -you had different strategies, with some on softs and some on hards, it was very interesting, and eventful.
“We were not expecting to be this strong in terms of pace, so it was exciting from inside of the helmet.”
Qualifying second for the Feature Race, Lundgaard will get the chance to reignite his battle with fellow Alpine Academy star Zhou, who starts from pole.
“The plan is to move up one position, it’s that simple,” he continued. “To achieve it, is not so simple. We have got a big package of data from everything up until this point and I think that we can already see the improvements we’ve made.
“We’ve picked up our Quali pace and we've picked up our race pace massively as well compared to the tests. So far, we have shown that, and we need to max out the race on Sunday too."