Sam Schmidt’s Indy Lights team and one of its current drivers are exploring their options for 2014.
As was announced a couple weeks ago, reigning Pro Mazda champion and Schmidt Peterson Indy Lights driver Jack Hawksworth is doing his first IndyCar test today at Sebring International Raceway with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. Here’s a tweet from the team, below:
Hawksworth described the step up: “The big thing is for me that the braking is different, in the Lights car you can’t hit the brake nearly as hard as you can hit it in an IndyCar,” he told IndyCar.com. “But the way you actually drive the car in terms of how you went into the corner, how you try to get your turning done in the corner is quite similar.”
If Hawksworth makes the jump to IndyCar next year, either on his own or with the support of a Mazda scholarship for winning the championship (what Tristan Vautier did this year and Josef Newgarden did in 2012), that will free up at least one Indy Lights seat.
According to Trackside Online’s Joe Berkemeier, the team is testing four drivers in Indy Lights: Brazilian Luis Felipe Derani, Colombian Juan Piedrahita and Americans Jimmy Simpson and Spencer Pigot. Derani and Simpson will test two days with Pigot and Piedrahita sharing a third car a day apiece.
MotorSportsTalk continues its review of the Verizon IndyCar Series field, driver-by-driver, with a look at Ryan Briscoe. Despite not having a ride to start the year, Briscoe ended strongly courtesy of a series of strong runs at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
Ryan Briscoe, No. 5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
- 2014: 11th Place, Best Finish 4th, Best Start 4th, 1 Top-5, 11 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 12.8 Avg. Start, 10.6 Avg. Finish
- 2015: 18th Place (8 starts), Best Finish 5th, Best Start 2nd, 1 Top-5, 4 Top-10, 10 Laps Led, 17.8 Avg. Start, 12.0 Avg. Finish
For those who slag on Briscoe as being undeserving of top level equipment, his 2015 second half provided a friendly reminder of his overall ability level in what might be less than the best machinery.
Briscoe was thrust into the No. 5 car under trying circumstances to begin with, getting all of an hour’s worth practice replacing the injured James Hinchcliffe ahead of the Indianapolis 500. But subsequent drives on the ovals there, Texas, Fontana, Milwaukee and Iowa – even if the results were less than ideal – showcased a driver determined to show to the paddock he still had it, and then some. His defense against Juan Pablo Montoya in Sonoma was nothing short of brilliant, and courtesy of double points he actually finished ahead of full-season driver Stefano Coletti.
The Australian immediately gelled with the SPM team, engineer Allen McDonald and race strategist Robert Gue. He continues to prove he’s an asset, as he has enjoyed multiple opportunities to extend his career in various arenas of motorsport in both open-wheel and sports cars, the latter of which he won at both the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring with Corvette Racing this year.
Following an early retirement for Mercedes AMG Petronas teammate Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton has closed even more on his third Formula 1 World Championship.
View it above in the race recap from the 2015 Russian Grand Prix.