IndyCar team owner Bobby Rahal says the US single-seater series resembles what Formula 1 used to be, thanks to a paddock that is "clearly" free of politics.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan announced on Wednesday that it had signed up FIA Formula 2 charger Christian Lundgaard for full IndyCar campaign in 2022 and beyond, with the Alpine junior all too happy to continue his top level single-seater career given the absence of an opportunity to graduate to F1.
Rahal, a three-time CART champion who contested the Canadian and US East Grand Prix races with Walter Wolf Racing in 1978 and who managed the Jaguar F1 team in 2000, offered his opinion on F1 during the media conference in which he announced Lundgaard's signing, and insisted IndyCar provided young drivers with better career opportunities than F1.
"First off, I think IndyCar is what Formula 1 used to be, to a large degree," said Rahal. "Clearly we don’t have the politics. Clearly we don’t — there’s a lot of things that don’t exist in the IndyCar paddock that exist in the Formula 1 paddock.
"You look at how many really good guys [there] are in F2 who maybe are frustrated now because they can’t make that next step, and yet they’ve kind of proven their abilities.
"I think that — if I’m a young guy in Europe and I look at the potentials — I think the potential for my career is much greater here in IndyCar than it is there [in Formula 1].
"I fully expect — as we once had a number of years ago where we had a number of Europeans and Brazilians in IndyCar racing — to see a greater representation from countries in Europe and countries in South America towards IndyCar."
Lundgaard agreed with his new team boss and said that the friendly atmosphere the dominates the IndyCar paddock was a factor in his decision to head west in 2022.
"What IndyCar is now is probably what I would think F1 was before I was born," said the 20-year-old Dane. "You know, it’s the proper racing I want to do.
"I spoke to some drivers a few days ago that’ve been in IndyCar and they say, ‘Here, you come, you enjoy, you like driving.’
"But at first, when you begin in Europe, you have the, let’s say, the proper feeling of racing that you enjoy. But the more you do it you kind of die, the spirit dies.
"Where for me over here it just continues. That’s what I had when I came for the race in August, that this is just so different.
"It’s a complete new spark that just fired in me, and I wanted to continue with that. I think it will. I’m pretty sure it will.
"IndyCar is the place to be, and I’m perfectly happy with where I am with RLL."