Michel Jourdain Jr. will make his second straight Indianapolis 500 start with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. He’ll run the No. 17 Office Depot Mexico/Grupo Indi/Grupo Multi Honda for what would be his third start in the race (1996 was his first).
Jourdain’s first Indianapolis start in 16 years, a year ago, ended in 19th and team co-owner Bobby Rahal said it could have been better but for a bad pit stop.
“I think that last year for his first race back after a number of years out of an Indy car, he did a very good job,” said Rahal. “We made a bad pit call last year and let him down frankly which put him a lap down.
“He quickly got with the program at Indy and was running competitively in the race and I think that one year later most of the rust is off and he will be much more prepared because he knows what to expect. From a car standpoint, we should be even more competitive than we were last year so I am really pleased to have Michel back. He is a great young guy and it’s a pleasure to have him, Office Depot Mexico, Grupo Indi and Grupo Multi back. It should be a good event for everybody.”
Jourdain noted RLL’s pace with his then-teammate Takuma Sato a year ago, and with experience both in this car and working with the same engineer in Bruno Couprie, his month should improve.
“It has been a year since I have been in the car but I will take the same strategy as last year and build up speed little by little,” said Jourdain. “We have good confidence because we ran pretty well last year, especially Takuma (Sato). I’m sure the car will be really good and with it being a three car team we should be able to progress much faster.”
Jourdain’s announcement brings the number of confirmed car and driver combinations to 30.
On Monday, the Formula 1 schedule finally allowed teams to be in Europe before heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s season finale.
And as such, that provided a window for now four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to return to the Mercedes AMG Petronas factories in Brackley and Brixworth to be celebrated for taking the driver’s title, as Hamilton an Valtteri Bottas delivered Mercedes its fourth straight constructor’s title.
Hamilton was at Brixworth, the home of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and its highly successful Mercedes-Benz Power Units first before heading to Brackley, where he was welcomed with a “guard of honor” as the entire team came out to greet him.
The champion was overwhelmed at the response and the welcome.
“This a very emotional day. I was not expecting this, thanks everyone for the warm welcome,” he said. “Today is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me – I’m blown away.
“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone. I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me. Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100%, which encourages me to bring my best performance.
“Thank you all for helping me achieve my dreams, it would not have been possible without you. This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had – that just makes it so much greater.”
A social roundup of images and videos are below, all via Hamilton and the Mercedes team on social media.