VeeKay on rookie year: “I’m a whole different driver now”

Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevrolet’s 2020 IndyCar Rookie of the Year Rinus VeeKay has vowed to do better this season after learning to not take “any unnecessary risk”.

VeeKay’s highlight was a pole and a podium in October’s Harvest Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, but he was also renowned for his speed and aggression – something that he admits needed tempering.

The 2019 Indy Lights runner-up said: “I'm a whole different driver now. Of course I only had Road to Indy experience before my rookie season started, but now I have I think it's 14 IndyCar races under my belt.

“I could already see that throughout the season I made so much progress. I think we had a very steep learning curve last year, and my job is to make sure that steep learning curve keeps staying as steep as it is now throughout the season.

“I found out that finishing a race is quite important, so I will always race as hard as I can, as fair as I can. But definitely don't take any risk – any unnecessary risk. Beginning of the season I was just really aggressive. Came away with it a few times, but also in Texas it was just too much.

“I definitely learned a lot from those races, and yeah, it made me a complete driver. I think now, yeah, I'll have to make sure I keep it all going, and yeah, finish as well as possible every race.”

Finding the right balance between aggression and consolidation, he said, was “definitely tough. You can't always do it 100 percent well,” and says he does much of it by instinct.

“It's mostly intuition, like your body does everything for you. Mostly if I do any moves in a race and I look back afterwards, I have no idea how I did it, but it happened. I think that's a good thing, don't think, and let everything happen how it goes.”

That said, VeeKay added that his rivals shouldn’t expect him to back down in wheel-to-wheel situations.

“Of course I had a lot of fun racing hard against some guys, but they didn't have as much fun as I did!” he commented. “But you get a certain respect with other drivers. You start to know them. When you start a season, you know nobody. It's an unknown person you're racing against.

“Now that I've met all the drivers, it's getting more like I'm another driver. They know I'm going to race hard. I'm not going to make it easy for them. It's a thing now. It's not something they have to be surprised of.”

VeeKay said his efforts to improve himself had been matched by the ECR-Chevrolet team.

“We're working together all the time to make each other better,” he said. “Of course, I'm not a robot, so I can do a lot of stuff better. We're all working together. It's a really nice team in terms of cooperation, very free. I can say whatever I want, and everyone wants to get better at everything.

“I can already see that the team has made progression in the off-season, and I'm getting more professional. I now expect more what the team wants from me, so I can anticipate more of that coming into the race weekends and make sure I prepare better for the coming races.

“I think if I just keep doing what I'm doing and have the team keep putting in the work that they did in the off-season, I think we can really run at the front, and yeah, hopefully go for podiums. Hopefully that first win, that's something I really want to go for. We'll see how that goes.”

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