IndyCar Driver Preview: Tristan Vautier

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#55 Tristan Vautier

  • Team: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
  • Engine: Honda
  • Sponsors: Florida Lottery (St. Petersburg only)
  • 2012: Firestone Indy Lights Champion, Four Wins, Five Poles, Seven Podiums

2012 WRAP: After winning the 2011 Pro Mazda title, Vautier advanced to Firestone Indy Lights with Sam Schmidt Motorsports and continued the team’s dominant legacy in the series by earning them their sixth overall Lights title (and third in a row). The young Frenchman triumphed at St. Petersburg, Milwaukee, Trois-Rivieres and Baltimore en route to winning the championship by eight points over Esteban Guerreri of Argentina.

2013 OUTLOOK: Vautier has definitely earned his drive in the big leagues after consecutive titles along the Road To Indy development ladder. He’ll have an obvious learning curve to contend with, but because he’s stayed with the Schmidt camp for his jump to IndyCar, that curve shouldn’t be as steep as it could’ve been had he gone somewhere else. He’s been solid in off-season testing, and while a win may be too much to ask, it would nonetheless not be surprising to see him have some very good moments in 2013.

Brown: Dennis would have made same decision on McLaren-Honda split

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Zak Brown believes former McLaren team boss Ron Dennis would have made the same decision to cut ties with struggling Formula 1 engine partner Honda had he still been in charge at the team in 2017.

McLaren executive director Brown helped engineer a deal for the team to split with Honda at the end of the 2017 season after three tough seasons that had seen the Japanese manufacturer offer little in the way of performance or reliability.

The decision split opinion, with McLaren spurning a significant annual financial injection from Honda in order to link up with Renault, believing its on-track fortunes had to be prioritized over its commercial interests.

In an interview with Sky Sports, Brown was asked if he believed Dennis – McLaren’s long-running team chief before stepping down at the end of 2016 – would have made the same decision to cut ties with Honda.

“I think he would have,” Brown said.

“He was here when those conversations were ongoing and I think Ron always has and always will have the best interests of McLaren in his heart.

“He is Mr. McLaren. It burns him inside as much as us not to see us winning races.”

Brown also elaborated on the decision to break off the much-lauded relationship with Honda, saying the first signs of trouble with the 2017 power unit were clear in pre-season.

After a number of attempts to try and rectify the situation, Brown and his fellow team bosses felt there was no alternative but to end the Honda deal for 2018.

“We knew we were in trouble in testing in Barcelona and we worked really hard for six months to try and find solutions that would give us confidence that we’d be much more competitive in 2018,” Brown said.

“Ultimately, after trying many different things and many different ways we felt we couldn’t get there.

“Three years is a long time in Formula 1 and so we needed to change the direction to get our team back at the top.”