Matheus Leist: "To be honest, I felt under pressure the whole race..."
To win on an oval in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires Series is not an easy challenge. To win as a rookie in your first ever oval race would be considered almost unachievable and yet that is exactly what Carlin’s Matheus Leist did last month. Having won the prestigious Freedom 100 at the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway in true dominant style, we caught up with the young Brazilian to find out what the win meant to him and his season going forward...
Firstly, congratulations on the Freedom 100 win! Did you think your first win in the series would come so soon in to your rookie season?
Yes, I thought that was possible to do. The team give me a great car every single weekend so that definitely makes me feel very confident when I get out on track so I know that we can do a good job and race hard.
You led from start to finish, was there ever a point that you felt under pressure during the race?
To be honest, I felt under pressure the whole race because it’s such a challenging event and with it being my first taste of the Freedom 100 you always feel a little pressure. It's crazy for me to think that we managed to win this race from green to checkered flag.
This was your first oval experience, how did you find it? What was the most challenging and what did you enjoy the most?
It was amazing! It was my first oval race ever, so that is what makes everything more interesting and special for me. The most challenging times from the weekend were during qualifying and the race. Qualifying was pretty difficult because we had no downforce and it makes the car very difficult to drive, but at the same time it was the craziest and most enjoyable moment for me.
Does getting such a prestigious win give you even more confidence for the rest of the 2017 season and what do you think is possible over the course of the rest of the season?
Yes, I think this win came at the right time for me. Every time I'm back at the car I feel better and more confident that we can push hard and win more races. There is still a long way to go in the championship but I think if we keep working as we are we have a shot at taking this title.
What was the best part about being able to celebrate the win with the team and how did their reaction make you feel?
The best part was when we were in victory lane and later on kissing the bricks. It was such a special moment for me and I'll remember it forever. The guys did an amazing job, the team wanted that win as much as I did and when we won I could see the happiness in the eyes of every team member. What a remarkable day!
How do you rate the Indy Lights championship in terms of competitiveness and the variation of track the series races at?
The championship has been very tough. There are so many great drivers racing against us who are pretty good in the races and make things really interesting out there. For me, the combination between ovals, road courses and street courses is amazing, you couldn't ask to race in a better championship.