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.

Williams confirms Kubica and Sirotkin for Abu Dhabi F1 test

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Williams has confirmed that Robert Kubica will enjoy his third Formula 1 test outing with the team at the end-of-season running in Abu Dhabi next week as rumors grow regarding a possible race seat for 2018.

Almost seven years after his last F1 start, Kubica’s remarkable return from severe injuries sustained in a rally accident saw him enjoy two private tests with Renault before completing running with the team in a 2017-spec car in Hungary over the summer.

Reservations over Kubica’s capabilities prompted Renault to pass on giving him a seat, instead opting to hire Carlos Sainz Jr. for next year, only for Williams to become an alternative for the Pole.

Kubica tested a 2014-spec Williams at both Silverstone and the Hungaroring in recent months, and will now sample a 2017 car when he tests at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit next Tuesday and Wednesday.

Kubica will share track time with regular Williams racer Lance Stroll and Russian youngster Sergey Sirotkin, who has worked with Renault over the past two years but also missed out on a 2018 seat.

“Williams Martini Racing is pleased to confirm it will run Robert Kubica and Sergey Sirotkin for the Abu Dhabi Pirelli tire test, alongside current race driver Lance Stroll,” a statement from the team reads.

“The Pirelli tire test will take place over two days at the Yas Marina circuit during the week following the 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

“On day one Robert Kubica will drive the FW40 in the morning session, before Lance Stroll takes over in the afternoon.

“On day two Sergey Sirotkin will drive in the morning and afternoon sessions before handing over to Robert in the late afternoon.

“The test is aimed at evaluating 2018 candidate tires on behalf of the Formula 1 tire supplier Pirelli.

“Williams is excited to have this opportunity to assess the new tyres across such an interesting range of drivers: Lance, as confirmed race driver for 2018, Robert with his huge experience, and Sergey as a very promising young talent in Formula 1.”

Williams denied earlier this week it has signed Kubica to partner Stroll for 2018, but indications are the deal looks very likely to go ahead, subject to the relevant paperwork and contracts being finalized.