Davey Hamilton back with Schmidt; team under one name

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Davey Hamilton has renewed his partnership with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, where the former driver will continue as co-owner of the No. 77 Honda driven by Simon Pagenaud.

“Working with Simon Pagenaud and the entire Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team has been fun because we know that each time the car hits the track we have the opportunity to win,” Hamilton said. “This is a true team sport, and having continuity in personnel for the third year in a row will enable us to not only win more races but also contend for a championship.”

This is doubly good news for SPM and for IndyCar observers, for multiple reasons.

For one, Hamilton was the driving force behind the HP sponsorship that adorned Pagenaud’s car the last two seasons. With Hamilton’s known business savvy – he put together deals with HP and other brands to race in the Indianapolis 500 five straight years from 2007 through 2011 with multiple teams – and co-owners Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson, the trio should be well on their way to finding new backers to replace HP for 2014.

Second, this removes the awkward, clunky nomenclature that SPM had in 2013. The Pagenaud entry was labeled as the Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports No. 77, while the second car, Tristan Vautier, was the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports No. 55. For good measure, the team’s third car at Indianapolis, driven by Katherine Legge, was officially the No. 81 Schmidt Peterson Pelfrey Motorsports entry.

For 2014, Hamilton’s still there, but his name isn’t in the team name, which saves us all the trouble of remembering which car had which ownership structure for naming rights. Pagenaud and teammate Mikhail Aleshin (now No. 7) will both run under the single Schmidt Peterson Motorsports banner, and Hamilton’s presence is a plus to the team and the paddock.

Additional commercial announcements should come, if not before IndyCar media day on Feb. 18 in Orlando, likely before IndyCar’s official preseason test at Barber Motorsports Park next month.

FIA returns Manor’s F1 entry fee for 2017

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Good news: Manor Grand Prix Racing Limited got a refund of an entry fee it paid to the FIA to run in this year’s F1 season.

Bad news: Manor still hasn’t run this year, and won’t be for the foreseeable future (especially as Manor’s former leadership staff is moving that team into FIA WEC’s new-look LMP1 class in addition to its LMP2 program).

Manor Group’s receivership outfit, Just Racing Services Limited, went into administration earlier this year. As there was no new buyer for the F1 team, Manor dropped from the 2017 grid before the season.

The FIA said it would return its entry fee to help Manor Group pay off outstanding debts.

It basically means nothing in the grand scheme of things since Manor missed out on 10th place in the constructor’s standings in 2016 and fell from the F1 grid as a result, but hey, it’s a goodwill gesture going into Thanksgiving this week.