Well, here I am on yet another plane and another adventure, heading down to Florida from Indianapolis. Only a few days are left before the pre-season is over and we get into race mode at St Pete. It has been great to relax over this off-season. It’s always nice to have everything lined up thanks to the Mazda Road to Indy scholarship and United Fiber & Data; it has really enabled me to enjoy the holidays without any pressure or urgency. However, the storm is fast approaching!
This pre-season has been quite interesting and very challenging for myself so far. Being with Andretti Autosport again for my second year has made it a little easier to make the jump from Pro Mazda to Indy Lights. I already knew most of the crew on the Indy Lights team, so I have been able to mesh relatively well and become familiarized with everyone’s personalities and roles within the team.
On the other hand, getting used to the Indy Lights car has been quite tough. It has taken me a while to feel up to speed and confident driving the car. I was definitely just trying to hang on with teeth gritted and white knuckles at first! I’m now finally starting to get my rhythm going, and I am having fun driving the car. Now that I’m actually enjoying myself and not holding on for dear life, the consistency and speed has come with it.
On the technical side, the weight of the Indy Lights car, for me, has been the hardest thing to get used to. The USF2000 car and Pro Mazda car were rather similar in weight. The Indy Lights car is the biggest and heaviest racecar I have ever driven, and although the downforce and power make up for it, I still had a hard time dealing with it. In a way, it feels like I have a train of carriages behind me pushing me into the corner. Other than that, everything else has felt similar to what I am used to.
We have been working hard in testing, making gains and getting on top of all the little details. I am quite pleased with how my team is working and I’m feeling confident at the moment. At the last open test day with all the other teams, we showed we had great pace; we were consistently in the top two every session. I don’t see any reason why we can’t carry this pace into St. Pete.
My goals are the same all the time, and that is to win. I think we have the speed at the moment to fight for pole position and also the race win when we get to St. Pete. I have no doubt this is going to be a very challenging year just like any. There are some very strong drivers in their second year of the series and also some very talented drivers from top levels of European racing. I will be trying to stay open-minded and keep my head clear. Anything can happen; this is such an unpredictable sport, but I have good feelings, and I’m really looking forward to getting this season underway.