Formula Two star and Alpine Academy member, Christian Lundgaard has exclusively spoken to us about life within motorsport and what it is like to be part of Alpine Academy.
Lundgaard has been part of Alpine’s Academy since 2017 which coincidentally marked his first season in single-seater racing, and has since gone on to climb the motorsport ladder to find himself in F2 where he has driven for ART GP since 2020.
In this candid interview, Lundgaard speaks about how his own “self interest” inspired him to become a racing driver and why Alpine “has been a huge help in confidence” despite consistency struggles of recent seasons as he looks ahead to the future after a successful one-off IndyCar debut in mid-August at Indianapolis.
Having grown up in a motorsport family with your father – Henrik who is known as 2000 European Rally champion, who was your inspiration for wanting to become a racing driver?
Lundgaard: “Well, I think it’s kind of obvious that there was always an interest for the sport growing up in it. This surely doesn’t mean it’s something you have to do, but you know I wanted to follow my dad’s interest.
“It was fortunately never something he pushed me to do and it was all from self interest which carries the biggest weight.”
After enjoyed plenty of success in your karting career, how surprised were you at how you seamlessly transitioned across to single-seater racing with 2017 SMP F4 and Spanish F4 titles?
Lundgaard: “I mean it was the goal from the get go. But of course, we can never predict but we can hope. Hard work always pays off in some way. The goal was only to the SMP NEZ F4 championship but there was a huge break between some of the races where the Spanish series had races.”
“The whole grip besides a couple of drivers didn’t attend in these races. It turned out pretty we for the first race which was our only target to if we did one. I won all three races that very first race weekend of the Spanish championship.
!After that we took race by race and when we saw there was an opportunity to win the championship, we took it and did the last couple of races.
“So, in general the whole year was slightly strange as I remember one race my mom came to pick me up from school as only 2 days before the weekend we decided to go. In the end it was worth it.”
2018 saw you step up to Formula Renault Eurocup where you narrowly missed out on the title as well as enjoy guest appearances in Formula Renault NEC and GP. From your perspective, what was it like to miss out on the FR Eurocup title in terms of confidence as well as enjoy guest races elsewhere?
Lundgaard: “To be honest I never thought I would be even near that in the beginning of the season. You know the Renault 2.0 was a very competitive series and we had seen drivers stay for 4 years. So, as a rookie to come in wasn’t easy.
“And in the end the only expectation I had was to fight for the rookie championship. But yeah, Sure losing out in the end after being so competitive and consistently finishing on the podium and fighting for it and then loose out from one weekend in Hockenheim where I had two DNF’s due to mechanical issues.
” So, it was tough in that regard, but I’m sure I did enough to prove my worth.”
Since 2019, you have driven for ART GP in F3 and F2 where consistency has been tough to find at times. On reflection, how different have you found this period compared to when you first stepped up to single-seater racing?
Lundgaard: “You know racing is a tough sport and I’m sure I’m seeing the tougher side at the moment, but I’m sure as well that it will turn around.
“Alpine F1 Team to still be sticking with me so far has been a huge help in confidence, even though it’s not something you really think of, it just means they still see the driver they did 4 years ago. Which is something positive for sure.
“ART GP and I both know our weaknesses and it’s something we are working on, but at the moment we seem to hit more and more bumps on the road that neither of us want.
“I have my trust in the team and the have proven over the years they have the car, we purely just need to be there consistently instead of what’s current.”
This season saw F2 switch to a three-race weekend format across eight rounds scattered across the year, so what has it been like adapting to the format changes despite enduring a difficult season after enjoying a strong pre-season Test?
Lundgaard: “I’m sure I’m not the only driver that’s maybe not in favour of the new format after trying it.
I mean looking at statistics we see teams that have car which are good at certain tracks and they will have a bigger advantage as we know to 3 races there. You know so, it’s a tough compromise which hits everyone in different ways.”
You’ve recently made your IndyCar debut with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing at Indianapolis during the lengthy gap between F2’s British and Italian rounds. How much did this opportunity mean to you despite having to adapt to the aero screen and car on top of IndyCar itself?
Lundgaard: “To be fair the aero screen didn’t do much of a difference other than the heat. But I mean a car is a car in the end. I got the grips with the car pretty quickly.
“My test at Barber Motorsports Park certainly helped for a race weekend preparation, but at that time we didn’t plan to race. But I’m extremely happy and pleased with the effort from my people behind to first of all let me have this opportunity and also to make it work.
“But yeah, again the big break is now again a good example of the F2 calendar which isn’t ideal. We aren’t supposed to sit around for 2-month mid-season. So, I’m happy to have been able to keep myself sharp in the regards”
Your experience in IndyCar has certainly given you a taste for life outside of the F1 circle, so how useful was that opportunity in bridging the gap between F2 rounds and preparing you for 2022 and beyond where you might race outside of traditional F1 pathway?
Lundgaard: “Well, everything is always an opportunity the question is just always how much money do you have.
“Of Course, the goal and aim are still F1 with Alpine F1 Team, how I get there doesn’t matter. So, I will always do my best on track no matter where it is.
“I still have a half season left this year in F2 and a lot can happen, so that’s still where my focus is, then we see what happens in December.”
Having been part of Alpine Academy for five seasons now and having conducted F1 tests, what have been the biggest lessons that you have learned as a member of Alpine?
Lundgaard: “Honestly, I don’t think I can put a biggest lesson up there, it’s been a long time with the team and it’s great people to work with. I’m based here in the UK near the factory so it’s great to come in there every day and see everyone.
“It’s a bit like a school you know, we are being taught from their experiences and so on. And importantly enough, I wouldn’t have been racing at the moment without them so, I can thank them for being here, and I’m looking forward for the future to know how long it continues.
Finally, your brother plays a contributing role in the designs of your race helmets alongside KV Designs, so what is it like having a sibling actively involved in creating the design of your racing helmets?
Lundgaard: “He helps me with a lot of things. I’m so happy to have him on the journey towards our dream.
“It’s a positive thing to have someone from close to your heart near you and working with you, it makes things harder at times, but certainly also easier at others, so it’s just great to have him.”
Special thank you to Christian Lundgaard for kindly taking the time to participate in this interview.