Exclusive | “They’re really similar” — Luca Ghiotto says F2 and IndyCar machinery feels the same regarding speed and handling

Photo Credit: Penske Entertainment | Chris Jones
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In the second part of Pit Debrief’s exclusive interview with Italian driver Luca Ghiotto, we dove into his past and present, bringing up and comparing a wide range of his racing experience.

Asked to pick a favourite from the wide array of racing categories he has driven in so far in his career, the F2 and IndyCar packages top the charts for him.

“It’s always hard to say which series I enjoyed the most, because it kind of feels like you’re talking bad about the others that you don’t mention. But personally, the cars, at least in the single-seaters, the cars that I’ve enjoyed more driving are for sure the F2 and IndyCar, those two cars are quite similar actually.

“Even in performance, there’s not much difference, and the way they drive is not that different as well.

“I had the chance to test an F1 car back in 2017, so that’s for sure the highest experience I’ve ever had.

“If I take that into consideration, that would win the first place straight away. But if I take that one out, because it was only one test, if I take only the cars that I’ve driven consistently for a long time, more than one time, for sure the IndyCar and the F2.”

After recalling his F1 test outing for Williams, the Italian discussed his experience in LMP2 cars as the 29-year-old is competing in the 2024 ELMS championship.

“Even though this year I’m racing in the ELMS with the LMP2s I have to say that the LMP2s are really nice and fast, and I’m enjoying driving them a lot. It kind of feels like a fast Formula car anyway, the speed is there.

“It’s a new experience for me, and I didn’t expect the car to be that good, so that was kind of a surprise for me.

“I would still put the F2 and IndyCar probably ahead, because they’re just faster overall, but the LMP2s were a nice surprise, and I’m really enjoying driving them as well.”

Ghiotto, returning to the #51 Dale Coyne Racing entry for the upcoming IndyCar rounds at Road America and Laguna Seca, talked about the similarities between the Formula 2 cars and the current IndyCar package, particularly how the handling and speed feels similar.

His four seasons spent in the championship below F1 has definitely been a great aid in adapting to his latest challenge, especially considering the very short time between Ghiotto signing a deal and making his debut at Barber.

“What helped in IndyCar was mostly what I did in F2. Basically because, as I said, the cars are really similar. The tyres are different, but the speed itself, the way that you drive it, it’s quite similar.

“The big difference is that in IndyCar you can really push basically all the way through the race, while in F2, I think the tyres are really showing what a driver can do in terms of tyre management.

“So it’s two different ways of racing. But if I take a qualifying lap where you just can push 100% with both cars, they’re really similar. I’m sure the F2 years helped out.”

Ghiotto is the latest big name to make the jump from Formula 2 over to the United States, following the likes of Pourchaire, Ilott, Lundgaard and Armstrong.

The Dane has particularly impressed, winning in Toronto last year. He’s also consistently outperforming series veteran and RLL teammate Graham Rahal.

Ghiotto explained why more and more of his colleagues from feeders are heading across the Atlantic, added that there is a desire to continue racing in single-seaters with the opportunity to drive in F1 gone.

“Well, when you start racing in Formula cars and you just keep racing Formula cars for your whole career, it’s hard to move to something else. I mean, I personally did in the last two, three years, I’ve tried other things, I did GTs for one year, this year I’m doing ELMS, so more running endurance racing.

“But F1 is always a thing that probably 99% of drivers, if you ask what’s your dream, they will say F1. That’s always the maximum goal for everyone.

“So if you cannot afford to reach that, then you’re trying to go to what’s closest to that, and at the moment, I think what is closest to that is either IndyCar or Super Formula in Japan.

“But even then there are different ways of seeing it. Because I think Super Formula is still more of a junior Formula.

“I mean, it’s faster than F2, but I see many drivers going there and do a couple of years and then maybe going to F1 or try something else. So it’s still kind of seen more as a feeder series.

“While IndyCar is more like a proper place that you just go and make your career there and stay there for a long time, because it’s quite known that IndyCar is a nice place to be. Especially if you go to the top teams, you become a real pro driver and you earn money by driving.

“Basically, it’s like being in F1, but it’s easier to get in. So that’s why a lot of drivers decided to go there, because if you want to become a pro driver and you cannot get to F1, for sure that is the best choice.”

Ghiotto was asked to compare his latest experiences, which require two diametrically opposite approaches.

“Well, that’s actually a very nice question, especially now that I’m doing basically ELMS and IndyCar at the same time, so I have the chance to experience both really close together.

“I think the main issue, well not issue, but the main difference is the fact that in Endurance Racing you’re sharing the car with others, and in IndyCar or in single seater in general, you have your own car, you’re driving by yourself.

“Everything else is just on you, there’s nothing else, no one else is helping you or doing something wrong, screwing the race or whatever, so it’s just up to you, you have to do your job as best as you can and if something happens, it’s your fault, it’s just you, that’s it.

“In Endurance Racing it’s different because you’re sharing the car with multiple drivers, which can be 2, 3 or 4, in my case in ELMS it’s 3 this year, and it’s just a different way of competing because you need to think more like a team.”

Working together, almost as one with the car, was almost a foreign concept for a driver with his single-seater background.

But the Italian’s experience at Inter Europol has been positive so far, achieving a top ten finish alongside teammates Clement Novalak and Oliver Gray in Barcelona.

“I mean, there’s always a team behind you, which is the mechanics, the engineers and then the team itself, but even as a driver you need to think more like a group, not just for yourself, which is kind of hard because when you are really competitive you always want to be the best and the fastest even within your group, but the hardest thing to understand is that sometimes you need to make a decision, you need to make the best for your car, not for yourself.

“That’s what I’ve learned it’s the hardest thing to make and to do in Endurance Racing, especially when you come from a long time in single seaters where you always race for yourself and just yourself against other cars with only one driver, that’s it, so that’s the main difference.”

Another key aspect that differs from his earlier driving experience is the duration of the races themselves and how you manage it — they last 4 hours in ELMS.

“Then even the racing itself is a bit more…  It depends how long the races are, but if they are really long, the way you manage the races are different because sometimes you just need to, like, try to survive the first hours of the race and then there’s one part of the race where you need to attack and try to engage places.

“While if you do a one and a half hour race in a single-seater, you know that from lap one to the last you need to push 100%, that’s always the only thing you have to do, so those I think are the two main differences.

“There’s always some details and everything, but as I said I think that the biggest ones or the biggest two differences are just these two, the fact that you need to share the car with other drivers and the style of race,” he summed up at the end.