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Lundqvist continues IndyCar education with F3 running in France

Chip Ganassi Racing IndyCar rookie Linus Lundqvist is knocking away the winter rust by pounding laps in a Formula 3 car at Circuit de Lurcy-Levis in France.

Linus Lundqvist, Chip Ganassi Racing

The opportunity for the 24-year-old Swede to get some extra running on Monday and Tuesday came about after hopes for track time in last month’s Daytona 24 Hours fell through.

Although Lundqvist has put in a significant amount of time in the simulator, he noted it is limited by Honda and that the focus is usually over run plans and various set-up concepts by the Ganassi engineers.

There have also been roughly a handful of on-track IndyCar tests, including completing the Rookie Orientation Program at Indianapolis last October, which was followed by a tyre test at Milwaukee and some hybrid running at Sebring. He also managed to get some laps at last month’s test at Homestead.

However, Lundqvist simply craves more track time having last competed in a race last August at the St. Louis oval, his last of three IndyCar starts with Meyer Shank Racing prior to signing with Chip Ganassi.

“Every driver is the same, we're just looking for laps in a race car because obviously in IndyCar you're very, very limited with the amount of test days that you get,” Lundqvist told Autosport.

“As a rookie you get one or two extra days, but it looks like we won't really use that until mid-season. So, I'm just looking to get as many laps as I can before St. Pete because now it's been a while. Last race I did was St. Louis and that's what, six, seven, eight months ago come St. Pete, so it was about time.”

Linus Lundqvist

Linus Lundqvist

Photo by: Penske Entertainment

Lundqvist, the 2022 Indy NXT champion, has fully immersed himself into his new team this winter by putting on “eight to 10 pounds” of muscle and endured plenty of classroom sessions with engineers.

“The first couple of months it was literally like back to school,” said Lundqvist, who has a best finish of 12th in IndyCar so far.

“Some of the engineers had lectures with me, so we took weeks at a time to go through the basic set-up fundamentals: how they think the car should be set up, what they require from a driver, we went through the dampers, the tyres, everything that from their point of view, they require the driver.

“I wanted to push that as much as I could because I can see that knowing these things can actually translate into a bit of lap time come race weekend.”

Lundqvist will have Brad Goldberg as race engineer on the #8 Honda for the 2024 season. Goldberg engineered the team’s former driver, Marcus Ericsson, to an Indianapolis 500 win in 2022.

The focus has since turned to race weekend preparations and learning how to handle concepts like strategy, fuel management and pitstops, among other items. Admittedly, he turns to his team-mates for advice, most notably six-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon.

Linus Lundqvist, Chip Ganassi Racing

Linus Lundqvist, Chip Ganassi Racing

Photo by: Chip Ganassi Racing

“It's everything,” Lundqvist said. “From studying data, studying race video, talking to team-mates, especially Scott, with the amount of experience that he has on how to approach a weekend and just talk through each and each race about what was good, what was bad.

“Went through the races that I did and what I should have done differently. It's just been focusing on areas where we think that I'm going to need improving, and that's literally almost day-to-day basis what I still do.”

While there is some anticipation of seeing the winter work pay dividends right out of the gate with the season opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on 10 March, Lundqvist carries a more long-term view.

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“Time will tell,” Lundqvist said. “We're here to win at the end of the day, but I think from my side, I really need to prepare that this opportunity that I have, you're going up against some of the best drivers in the whole world and going in as a rookie still, so it's going to be very, very tough.

“I think that the target that I have set for myself is not a number. We just need to maximise whatever we have. If maximising our performance that weekend is 10th, then we're happy, or if it's to win the race, then we're happy.

“And to continue to learn, especially with the team and the team-mates that I do have is to be able to make strides every single weekend and see that we get closer to the full package that we're trying to get to.”

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