What does this return to IndyCar represent for you?
I’ve always wanted to come back to it, because it’s a fantastic, very competitive series where you have a lot of fun. When Dale Coyne Racing called me in January to tell me that he wanted me to race on ovals to complete Romain Grosjean’s program, the proposal was all the more tempting since Romain is a friend with whom I have worked for the last three years at Haas F1 Team, where I am a test driver. And then, I love the ovals.
How did your taste for this type of layout come about?
In fact, I lived a good part of my life in the United States, and after my years in Go Kart, I started in a Nascar competition (the current Nascar Weekly Series. Editor’s note), on Late Model, where you only run on short ovals, and I won this championship. It was in 2011, at Hickory Motor Speedway (North Carolina. Editor’s note). And in 2018, during my first stint in IndyCar at Dale Coyne Racing, where I got rather good results.
What memories do you keep of your first season in IndyCar, where you were involved in a partial program (in addition to Zachary DeMelo)?
I took part in six heats, including three on the oval, where I was able to count on the precious advice of Sébastien Bourdais, because I had never driven a single-seater on this type of track before. Moreover, this year, during the Media Day (March 4, 2021, presentation event of the season organized for the media. Editor’s note), I had lunch with him and Romain (Grosjean. Editor’s note). For example, I really liked Gateway (oval in Illinois, 2 km. Editor’s note), where I’m going to run again this season (August 22, Editor’s note). In free practice, I had even signed the 3rd fastest time, but in the race I unfortunately started in last position, my position in the championship, because it had rained and qualifying had been canceled. Despite everything, I still signed an 11th place at the finish. At Pocono, the experience was shorter, as I was involved in the terrible Robert Wickens crash. And then, I started my season in Phoenix with a 10th place in qualifying, when I was the first car to hit the track. In short, I love ovals, but each circuit has its characteristics.
Find the full interview in AUTOhebdo n ° 2305 available in digital version.