We can officially confirm Luiz Razia as part of the IndyCar, and now Indy Lights, free agent pool.
The Brazilian former GP2 runner-up, and original 2013 Marussia Formula One driver before a sponsorship shortfall, hinted at interest in IndyCar a couple weeks ago. But he’s completed his first Indy Lights test with four-time defending series champions Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, and his interest in racing in North America seems serious.
“I visited some IndyCar (Series) teams and Indy Lights teams and my manager came up with this test with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, which is the perfect team for me because they have so many championships and much knowledge,” Razia told IndyCar.com.
“To be honest, I know I have the speed and talent to be in (the IndyCar Series), but also it’s good to know the business around the series, the people, how the competition is, the rules and the tracks.”
After his F1 deal fell through, Razia raced 2013 in the International GT Open sports car series.
Razia’s a bit of an interesting prospect. He’s not a world-beater, and probably wouldn’t enter IndyCar with the hype of an Helio Castroneves or Tony Kanaan, who established themselves in Indy Lights in the mid-1990s and a Marlboro Latin America-supported sponsorship program. He doesn’t quite have the credentials of Raphael Matos, who entered IndyCar in 2009 after successive Indy Lights and Formula Atlantic titles in back-to-back years.
But considering the relative lack of Brazilians that have entered the sport over the last few years – really only Matos, Ana Beatriz, Mario Moraes and Mario Romancini have entered since 2009 – Razia’s probably on that level if not stronger in terms of overall ability. As with anyone trying to find a ride in either IndyCar or Indy Lights, where Razia lands would probably come down to how much funding he can bring.
Brazil provided a hotbed of open-wheel talent at the turn of the century, with Castroneves, Kanaan, Gil de Ferran, Cristiano da Matta, Bruno Junqueira, Christian Fittipaldi, Roberto Moreno, Mauricio Gugelmin, Gualter Salles, Tarso Marques, Luiz Garcia Jr. and perhaps one or two others making sporadic appearances in the CART, Champ Car and IndyCar ranks.
But over the last five years, the level of Brazilian talent in America has dwindled down to the two veterans, and the series’ race in Sao Paulo has been axed for 2014. IndyCar – or Indy Lights – could do worse than finding a fresh Brazilian to add to the grid.