IndyCar Driver Preview: Simon Pagenaud

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#77 Simon Pagenaud

  • Team: Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports
  • Engine: Honda
  • Sponsors: HP
  • 2012: 5th Place, Four Podiums, Six Top Fives

2012 WRAP: Despite not winning a race, Pagenaud’s full-time return to open-wheel racing was still a smash. The Champ Car and sports car veteran quickly became one of the IZOD IndyCar Series’ top drivers, netting podium finishes at Long Beach, Belle Isle, Mid-Ohio and Baltimore. His run at the Beach may have been his most memorable of 2012, as he closed in on Will Power at an stellar rate of speed in the final laps before the Australian managed to hang on by eight-tenths of a second; he had been up by 5.9 seconds with five laps to go. Pagenaud also had some nice moments on the ovals, finishing sixth at Texas and fifth at Iowa.

2013 OUTLOOK: Pagenaud and SHM did a fantastic job as a single-car operation last season, and now the team has grown with rookie Tristan Vautier serving as his teammate. We’ll see how Pagenaud adapts to being a mentor, but he should be able to contend again this season with the strong team that he has behind him. However, he’ll have to start winning races over the Big Three teams (Andretti Autosport, Team Penske and Target Chip Ganassi Racing) in order to mount a legitimate title run against them. Continuing to hone his oval skills will also be a priority for him.

Ferrari, Mercedes launch 2018 F1 cars

Photo: Getty Images
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The title combatants from the 2017 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season both launched their 2018 challengers earlier on Thursday, with Scuderia Ferrari revealing the SF71H and Mercedes AMG Petronas revealing the W09.

For Ferrari, the SF71H represents an evolution of last year’s SF70H, which helped produce Ferrari’s best season in several years.

They presented a strong challenge to Mercedes for the championship, even leading the way at various points, with Sebastian Vettel recording five wins along the way. But, mechanical failures and crashes hampered their efforts late in the season, and they settled for second in the driver’s championship (with Vettel) and the constructor’s championship.

Entering 2018, the team is emphasizing the importance of building momentum with every race to ultimately secure their first constructor’s crown since 2008 and their first driver’s crown since 2007.

“There are no challenges actually. There are no challenges in the plural. There is just one challenge, which is the final challenge,” asserted team principal Maurizio Arrivabene. So that’s work that you build and you don’t build that work in one or two races. We’ve seen over the last few years, in the last championships, that you work race by race, and you always try to do the best you can.”

Technical director Mattia Binotto detailed some of the updates on the 2018 car, such as an new power unit and new suspension designs in anticipation of new tire constructions.

“We worked a lot on the power unit, we worked on its reliability and performance. We worked on the packaging, on suspensions in the rear axle because there will be new tires the following season, so we also tried to design the car to accommodate the new tires,” he explained.

Binotto added, “In regards to aerodynamics, we maintained our concept of having the inlets on the radiators, and everybody’s copying that, but we tried to make an additional step forward and what we showed today is not the same element of last year, but it is something more developed.”

Mercedes, meanwhile, will look to take it’s fifth consecutive driver’s and constructor’s championships with the W09. The team even took the car to the track for its launch, conducting a filming day at Silverstone Circuit.

“It is always a very exciting time because what has been designed is coming together and coming alive,”  team principal Toto Wolff said during the launch.

Despite facing challenges with last year’s car, the W08, the team elected to follow a similar design concept with the aerodynamics to improve on the car’s strengths while simultaneously addressing its weak points.

“We like some of the character traits from our diva,” Wolf quipped. “The W08 was the fastest car on the grid, scoring the highest number of pole positions and winning the most races last year. So we were careful not to lose the car’s many strengths just to overcome the difficulties.”

Both Ferrari and Mercedes are expected to slug it out again for the 2018 driver’s and constructor’s championships.

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