Scott McLaughlin says he is his harshest critic in his rookie IndyCar season, suggesting it is part of a race-winning mentality.
The 27-year-old New Zealander left the Supercars Championship for IndyCar at a time where his dominance in Australia was largely unrivalled.
However, his maiden season in American has McLaughlin partnering three of the series’ most successful drivers. Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud and Will Power share 70 career wins between them, whereas McLaughlin has only made one race start.
It is a daunting trio of drivers to go up against for any rookie. But McLaughlin insists the fastest way to adapt to his new challenge is to push to a level where he can compete with his teammates.
Until then, he says he remains unsatisfied.
“I’m my own harshest critic,” he told Autosport. “I’ve got three guys alongside me who I want to beat, and if I’m not beating them, regardless of my lack of experience, I’m not really satisfied. It’s just in my competitive nature.
“I think I’ve definitely made gains and I’m enjoying that, really pushing myself, but I know I’ve got to do better.”
McLaughlin was one of 12 drivers present at Barber Motorsport Park earlier in the week for a private test.
He finished an impressive seventh fastest, only a fraction slower than Newgarden and one place higher than Pagenaud.
Comparing himself to his teammates, McLaughlin says each has their own strengths, which he hopes to adapt into his own driving.
“There’s bits and pieces where I’m OK and there are other areas where I’m really bad,” McLaughlin said.
“Simon is really fast in some areas, Josef is really fast in some areas and really solid – he can get a lap time out of the car quite easily. And then Will… everyone knows his pedigree and how he can get a fast lap together.
“So, I’ve got three of the best teammates I could have, I’m really enjoying the fact that they’re pushing me so hard.
“And the team is pushing me hard, too. I’m building a really good relationship with Jonathan; he’s a great guy but also someone I really enjoy working with.
“Having all these people around me, the situation I’m in, puts a lot of positivity in your life, in your brain, and I’m having a ball. Learning a totally different kettle of fish is really enjoyable and challenging.”
One of the more challenging aspects to learn has been the different compounds of tyres used in IndyCar.
“Here in IndyCar, there’s different road course compounds, different street course compounds, ovals obviously… So getting a handle on that has been a challenge in itself, because you get comfortable on one thing and then it changes at the next track.
“I still think my teammates can use the tires better across a whole stint, but that’s experience and that’s one of the things I have to learn, and I do feel I’m getting closer to them. At the moment, I think I’m pretty good on a one-stint-old set of tires; my pace is closest to my teammates on a used set, I’d say.
“Having those guys there, being able to pick the brains of guys at the top of their game and the top of the sport is so beneficial. I’m very lucky.”
The first round of the 2021 IndyCar season will be the Grand Prix of Alabama on April 18.