Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Announces Their 2018 Driver Lineup

James Hinchcliffe
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports announced today its lineup for the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season. Oakville, Ontario native James Hinchcliffe has renewed his contract with the Indianapolis-based team in a multi-year extension, and the 2011 IndyCar Rookie of the Year’s teammate will be countryman and friend Robert Wickens, a native of Guelph. The duo marks the first all-Canadian lineup in North American open-wheel racing since 2004 (Champ Car; Forsythe Racing: Paul Tracy, Patrick Carpentier).

“Not only am I really excited to be able to say I’ll be back with SPM for next year and beyond, but I am also really looking forward to being teammates with one of my oldest friends,” the 30-year-old Hinchcliffe commented. “Robbie and I grew up racing against one another, eventually took different paths, me staying in North America in open-wheel cars and him going off to Europe in sports cars, but it’s pretty neat that we both ended up here and we get to live our dream of being professional racing drivers, together on the same team. I think 2018 is going to be a great year for the SPM organization, from having Robbie here to the team’s new partnership with Honda and the 2018 aero kit; I just can’t wait to get back on track and bring some good results home for the Arrow Electronics crew.”

The Season 23 Dancing with the Stars runner-up has thus far captured five wins (St. Pete, Sao Paulo, Iowa 2013; New Orleans 2015; Long Beach 2017), 14 podium finishes and one pole position (Indianapolis 500, 2016) in his six full seasons of IndyCar competition. Hinchcliffe has led 691 laps to date.

With two Formula Championships under his belt (Formula BMW USA, 2006; Formula Renault 3.5, 2011) as well as a season as a Formula One test driver (Marussia Virgin Racing), Wickens will make his return to open-wheel racing following six seasons of competing in Europe for Mercedes Benz in Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM). During his time in sports cars, the 28-year-old clinched six wins, five pole positions and 15 podium finishes.

“This is an entirely new chapter to add to my racing career, and I am really excited for this opportunity that Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has given me,” Wickens noted. “I think everyone knows the story by now that James and I grew up racing against one another in go karts, and to make it to the largest open-wheel racing series in North America together as teammates, it’s crazy to think about. I am very thankful for the six years I had with everyone at Mercedes and DTM; those are memories I will cherish forever. I can’t wait to truly see what the Verizon IndyCar Series is all about!”

“We’re all very pleased to have Robert on board, and not just because he’s another Canadian,” added SPM co-owner and fellow Canadian, Ric Peterson. “He’s obviously someone who has been on our radar for some time now, and we’re excited about this new chapter in the SPM organization. We’ve been building a lot of momentum within the team and hope this latest addition will be a great next step as we move forward. I’m also really proud that we’ll be able to represent ‘Team Canada’ and be able to showcase two great Canadian athletes.”

#TeamCanada will be available to media tomorrow, October 19 at Goodwood Kartways (5200 Concession 2 Road, Whitchurch-Stouffville) from 3:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. with a media vs. drivers karting race immediately following. (Please RSVP your attendance to SPM Press Officer Veronica Knowlton.) A free, public meet and greet with the IndyCar drivers will then take place from 4:15 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.

You can keep up with the latest news from SPM and its 2018 lineup via Twitter/Facebook/Instagram at @SPMindycar, @Hinchtown and @RobertWickens.

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Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Partners with Calmels and Gommendy For 2018 Indy 500

Mikhail Aleshin
Frenchman Didier Calmels, owner of Calmels Sport, along with racing driver Tristan Gommendy, has partnered with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports for an entry in the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 in May 2018.

Gommendy, of Le Chesnay, France, will pilot a blue, white and red No. 77 Honda, in honor of his native country, following completion of his Verizon IndyCar Series’ rookie orientation program. The 38-year-old, who currently competes in the FIA World Endurance Championship, captured a third-place finish overall at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and has previously competed in Champ Car, GP2, World Series by Renault, Formula Renault and French F3.

“Competing in the Indianapolis 500 is a dream come true; it was a career goal when I was racing in Champ Car,” noted Gommendy. “Even though I grew up driving open-wheel cars, everything is completely new when you get to Indy. The Speedway and this race demand a lot of respect. Racing at 230 mph with four 90° turns is far from the European motorsport culture. I know I’ll have to work very hard to get ready for next May. The first steps, including my first simulator test, went well, but much more work needs to be done. Everything so far has shown me that this partnership between Calmels Sport and SPM is extraordinary. In the United States, everything is possible … provided you earn your spot. It’s up to us to write a beautiful French story in Indiana!”

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports co-owner Sam Schmidt commented, “Ric and I are pleased to announce this partnership with Didier Calmels. Compared to him, we are relative newcomers to team ownership but have similar backgrounds of success in the business world. We look forward to learning a tremendous amount from Didier regarding the business of racing and his innovative approaches which have resulted in great success in European formulas. In addition, SPM has already shown results with French drivers such as Pagenaud and Vautier, so we look forward to having the talented and experienced Tristan Gommendy join our team for 2018. He has a similar background to Simon, so we have very high expectations.”

The partnership will see major support on French television throughout the month of May with coverage on Canal +, Infosport + and C8, as well as a 52-minute documentary about the creation of the Calmels Sport IndyCar program which will air on Canal+ in France a week prior to next year’s 500-mile race.

SPM, Calmels Sport and Gommendy’s partnership will kick off later this fall with the Frenchman’s first Verizon IndyCar series oval test in October.

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Schmidt Peterson Motorsports And Honda Performance Development Increase Partnership

James Hinchcliffe
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports along with Honda and Honda Performance Development announced today an increased level of partnership between the two parties. The Verizon IndyCar Series team and the engine manufacturer also noted the extended contract is intact through the 2020 season.

“Our technical partners give us the increased engineering capability which, in turn, gives HPD the confidence in us as a team to take our partnership to the next level,” noted Piers Phillips, SPM General Manager. “Our contract extension is the culmination of everyone’s hard work. One of the things that we’re extremely excited about is working closer technically with HPD for the benefit of not only our program, but for all Honda programs in the IndyCar Series. We’re really excited for the next three years and hoping to win a lot of races, some Indy 500s and championships.”

“We’ve seen a significant increase in their capability, and our expectations are a lot higher,” commented Art St. Cyr, Honda Performance Development President. “Their engineering talent, their ability to analyze what’s going on from one race to the next and really be able to up their game each session really impressed us. We are going to be relying on Schmidt Peterson Motorsports to help us gather base data that is going to be the source of our programs like HPD Dynamic, our simulator, and those types of activities that we will be feeding across to all of our Honda teams to make sure that all of them raise their game.

“As we move forward with our manufacturer testing, SPM is going to be one of our key teams to really help us characterize the kits and make sure we can understand what are the strengths, what are the weaknesses and how we can maximize the ability of that kit to get the speed on track.”

Since its first full season in the Verizon IndyCar Series beginning in 2011 at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has remained a Honda-powered team. Together the Indianapolis-based crew and the SoCal-based manufacturer have thus far secured six wins, two Indianapolis 500 pole positions, four pole positions overall as well as three top-five finishes in the championship points standings.

As the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season comes to a close next weekend in Sonoma, CA, HPD and SPM will resume testing of the 2018 universal aero kit with the next test to take place later this month at Sebring International Raceway.

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Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Recaps The IndyCar Grand Prix At The Glen

James Hinchcliffe

James Hinchcliffe
No. 5 Arrow Electronics Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
“About Lap 2 I started having problems getting into fourth gear; it would kind rev off the limiter, it would skip the gear sometimes, it would clunk in… I knew we had a little bit of a problem, and then coming out of Turn 8, shifted to third and everything messed up in the gearbox and went down to first gear, and I think did some pretty big damage to the gearbox. It’s really too bad. We didn’t have the best qualifying and wasn’t the best weekend for us, but we were confident we could pull something off in the race — good strategy, smart decisions. Tough day for the Arrow Electronics guys but we’ll bounce back in Sonoma.”

Mikhail Aleshin

Jack Harvey
No. 7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports AutoNation Sirius XM Honda
“I think we accomplished everything we wanted to coming into this weekend. To be fair, I was getting quicker and quicker. I thought we had a dream situation the way the first yellow fell, but I was getting killed down the front straight and up to the bus stop. The team made a few changes towards the end of the race, and our pace came back immediately, I got into a good rhythm and we finished the race. There are a few things for Sonoma that we’ll need to work on but I thought the weekend overall was pretty good and a good learning experience.”

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Schmidt Peterson Recaps The Bammarito Automotive Group 500

James Hinchcliffe
James Hinchcliffe
No. 5 Arrow Electronics Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
“Solid day despite starting 10th and finishing eighth; for only a two-position swing, it was a lot more dramatic day than that. I think we made some good changes to the car throughout the night, and we were a lot racier than we were in second practice yesterday, so big credit to the engineers. The Arrow guys were awesome in the pitstops today, so we made up some spots there. We just ultimately got caught out on the last yellow. It was a wrong place, wrong time, and Conor [Daly] came around the outside of us there and took all of the air off us. I had to slide up the racetrack and I think we maybe damaged a tire when we did that because after that we had a pretty big vibration and we couldn’t really attack Charlie [Kimball] there at the end. Probably should have finished sixth, but we’ll take a solid top 10 and hopefully build on that for Watkins Glen.”

Mikhail Aleshin
Sebastian Saavedra
No. 7 Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
“We had a very interesting race altogether… a bit crazy. The cold [weather] and night definitely made the car quite slick which took a couple people out of balance really. On my side, I was still in a learning process. Once I felt comfortable, I knew my cues and I managed to start committing. The whole Schmidt Peterson Motorsports crew did an amazing job overnight to put an amazing race car together and that gave me the confidence to really start moving forward from the back. We took advantage of some yellows which really put us in a good sequence to battle with the top 10. We really struggled on restarts, getting into a couple situations which almost took us out, but thankfully we managed to survive those and continue moving our way to the front.

It’s been three races with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and it has been so fun. I have to thank everyone at the organization – mechanics, engineering staff, commercial staff, everyone. They really welcomed me like one of them. I didn’t expect the click to be so quick and so seamless; I think that has really shown in the three races we’ve done together. To be honest, it felt like home. I really wish everyone the best, no matter what happens next. I’m very happy to be able to have had these opportunities.”

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Both Hinchcliffe And Saavedra Had Problems At Pocono

James Hinchcliffe
James Hinchcliffe
No. 5 Arrow Electronics Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
“We were two-wide racing there shortly after the re-start and I was on the inside there. The guys in front of us started racing and I guess J.R. (Hildebrand) got a bit of push when everybody was side-by-side and put a bunch of wheel in it, it pitched him loose and I was just there. If I had been a bit back, he probably would have spun down in front of me. I might have gotten into him either way – you don’t really know. It’s unfortunate and at the end of the day we really shouldn’t have been back there. We should have been running up front like we were. I made a mistake in pit lane and put us in that position so I’m gutted for the Arrow boys; they deserve better than that. We’re going to regroup and try to do well at Gateway.”

Mikhail Aleshin
Sebastian Saavedra
No. 7 Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
“Very disappointing situation to be honest. We were struggling since yesterday with a loose car, which unfortunately got marginally looser as we went into the race. The whole No. 7 team did an amazing job getting the balance back to me, and we had a very strong second stint, which we really capitalized on. We were moving very strongly through the field looking for a nice top 10 there, then had a situation with Munoz – contact that put me into the apron. We might have bent a shock, which basically ended our day. Our mission was to bring it home, but unfortunately this couldn’t happen. We were losing water pressure, and so there were a lot of issues that were happening, and it just ended up not our way. Looking forward to what’s to come next weekend. Not our weekend for the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports organization, but we just need to continue working and building something stronger for what’s to come.”

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Sebastian Saavedra Is In As The New Driver Of The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports No. 7

Mikhail Aleshin
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (SPM) has announced Sebastian Saavedra as the driver of the No. 7 Honda for the next two Verizon IndyCar Series races. The Colombian will join teammate James Hinchcliffe at Pocono Raceway and Gateway Motorsports Park.

The event at Pocono will mark the 27-year-old’s 64th career IndyCar start and third at the Tricky Triangle. Saavedra will once again be paired with race engineer Blair Perschbacher with whom he has won previously in the Indy Lights Championship.

“I am very excited to be back with the SPM organization,” Saavedra commented. “It’s another late call to jump in, but I take it with pride after a promising start of our relationship in Toronto. Looking forward to a challenging event as the Tricky Triangle can be, and support Hinchcliffe in his pursuit of championship points. I’m thankful to my sponsors and my continued relationship with AFS Inc.”

President and CEO of AFS Inc. Gary Peterson noted: “It’s great to team up with Sam after the great rivalry we had in the Lights championship. After Sebastian’s positive performance in Toronto, the next two events will be an opportunity to show his strength on ovals and that he is a great candidate for the 2018 season with SPM.”

“Delighted to have Sebastian back with the SPM team following what was a very encouraging performance at the Toronto event,” said Piers Phillips, General Manager of SPM. “He is experienced and competent, and I have no doubt he will contribute to the overall performance of the team. We’re heading to Pocono full of confidence as a team and we’re looking forward to hopefully seeing Sebastian and James at the front of the pack.”

The No. 7 Lucas Oil Honda will highlight AFS Racing for this weekend’s ABC Supply 500 and next week’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500. Fans will be able to see Saavedra in action beginning with practice at9:00 a.m. ET this Saturday, August 19 at racecontrol.indycar.com.

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Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Mikhail Aleshin Part Ways

Mikhail Aleshin
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports announced today that Mikhail Aleshin will not return to drive the No. 7 Lucas Oil Honda for the remainder of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season. The first Russian driver in Indy car racing will instead continue working with his sponsor, SMP Racing, in sports-car racing.

The INDYCAR team issued a statement on the decision:

“Mikhail Aleshin, the Russian SMP Racing program driver, will not be returning to the No. 7 Honda for the remainder of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season,” the statement read. “Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and SMP Racing have mutually agreed that the Russian driver will focus on the design and development of the new BR1 LMP1 car.

“Aleshin is the key SMP Racing driver working on the new LMP1 prototype BR1 which shall be ready for its first test session in the near future. Designed by Russian company BR Engineering, in cooperation with Dallara, the BR1 of SMP Racing team will debut in FIA World Endurance Championship in 2018.”

Aleshin, 30, has driven in 46 Verizon IndyCar Series races for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports since 2014, with a best finish of second place twice (Houston-2 in 2014 and Pocono in 2016). He is 16th in this year’s standings with a best finish of sixth in the first race of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear doubleheader weekend.

The team did not name a replacement driver for the remainder of the 2017 season.

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The Mayor Of Hinchtown Is Looking At NASCAR

James Hinchcliffe
Don’t be surprised to see Canadian IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe, who’s in Canada to compete in this weekend’s Honda Indy Toronto, racing in a stock car sometime in the near future.

Although he’s committed to his open wheel Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (SPM) team, the 30-year-old Canadian would like to get his feet wet on a road course in NASCAR’s second tier Xfinity Series sooner rather than later.

“We hit the ground pretty hard in the last 18 months trying to make it happen,” says Hinchcliffe, who has had contact with some NASCAR outfits but things haven’t progressed to the point where there’s any solid lead on a seat.

“I have always wanted to try it and a road course is the best way to ease into it. We want to do it right but it’s not something I am looking at in anticipation of a career switch.”

In addition, the Xfinity Series will visit the Mid-Ohio Sportscar Course on Aug. 12, where Hinchcliffe has raced twice in Indy Lights and five times in IndyCar. As a bonus, he will have started his sixth IndyCar race there (the Mid-Ohio 200) two weeks before the Xfinity Series arrives at the track.

It sounds like another “open wheel dude” wants to try his hand at racing “door slammers”!  These days racing “taxi cabs” appears to be much safer than driving the open wheel cars.  Additionally, it appears that the paychecks are much higher in NASCAR over what the IndyCar drivers earn per annum.

As always, this is a sport that requires a whole lot of sponsorship dollars to accompany the driver!  You could be the most talented driver, but if you do not have a “sugar daddy” sponsorship package, your chances of securing a competitive ride in NASCAR is next to zero!

Can James Hinchcliffe put together a sponsorship deal that will allow him to comfortably transition from IndyCar to NASCAR soon?  Can he learn how to race these “taxi cabs” and be competitive quickly?  There are a number of questions and obstacles that “The Mayor of Hinchtown” will be confronted with, and must overcome, if he does transition to NASCAR in the near future.

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Sebastian Saavedra Will Pilot The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports No.7 At Toronto

Mikhail Aleshin

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has just released a very interesting statement regarding the new/interim driver for their No 7 IndyCar entry at Toronto!
TORONTO, ONT. (July 13, 2017) – Schmidt Peterson Motorsports announced today that 27-year-old Colombian Sebastian Saavedra will pilot the No. 7 Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda. This will see “Seb” partner with his former race engineer Blair Perschbacher; the duo won multiple races together during their time in the Indy Lights Championship including one pole position and one win at the Toronto Grand Prix.

The Entry will carry branding from AFS Racing and longtime supporter Gary Peterson who has competed against SPM for years. “We welcome the opportunity to compete with Ric and Sam at a venue where Seb and I have had great success in the past,” said Gary Peterson. Mikhail Aleshin will be on-site for this weekend’s event supporting the SPM team, however neither the team nor Aleshin will be providing any further comments at this time.

Is there something brewing between Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Mikhail Aleshin?

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!