Alex Tagliani named to SFHR’s second car for Indianapolis 500

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Alex Tagliani, the 2011 Indianapolis 500 pole sitter, will have a new opportunity for this year’s month of May in the second Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing entry.

Tagliani will drive the team’s No. 68 SFHR/RW Dallara/Honda/Firestone for the Indianapolis 500. And for teammate Josef Newgarden, it’s a huge get, because it will mark the first time the young Nashville native will have a veteran in the team’s second car (Bryan Clauson in 2012 Indianapolis 500 and Lucas Luhr in 2013 Sonoma race were each making their series debuts).

“It has always been our goal at SFHR to hire talent for credentials, and I am excited to have that opportunity again to include Tag in our Indianapolis 500 lineup, alongside Josef,” SFHR co-owner Sarah Fisher said in a release. “Wink has helped us bring the proper individuals together to provide a solidly prepared effort toward success at Indy. We continue to have the support of the RW Motorsports founder, Steve Weirich, for this second program and are looking forward to building on to this second entry even further during the second half of the season.”

Added Tagliani, “I need to really thank Sarah and Wink for this chance to go back to Indianapolis to win this race. It’s been a pleasure working with them. This has the potential to develop into a longer association because I really love what this team is about. You couldn’t ask for a better team to attack the ‘500.’ They have the ability to surprise a lot of people! I’m looking forward to working with Josef and trying to help SFHR win the big one.”

This is the fourth extra Honda added for the ‘500, along with Martin Plowman, Jacques Villeneuve and Kurt Busch. That brings Honda’s confirmed number of engines for the race up to 17, as beyond the four Indy-only cars, Oriol Servia’s second Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing car has been added for four races.

The separate, crowd-funded Cutters RT effort, if it materializes, would be an additional entry that SFHR would run.

Tagliani is in action this weekend at the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, driving with Chris Cumming and Rusty Mitchell in RSR Racing’s No. 08 ORECA FLM09 PC car.

Williams to wait until new year before making 2018 F1 driver decision

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Williams will wait until the new year before making an announcement regarding its Formula 1 driver line-up for the 2018 season.

Williams holds the final vacant seat in F1 for next year, with Felipe Massa retiring at the last race of the 2017 season in Abu Dhabi at the end of November.

The Brazilian’s departure has opened up a seat alongside Lance Stroll for 2018, which looked poised to be taken by Robert Kubica, over seven years after he last raced in F1 before injuries sustained in a rally accident appeared to cut his career short.

Doubts emerged about Kubica’s comeback following a test with Williams in its 2017-spec car in Abu Dhabi after the final race of the season, leading to Russian youngster Sergey Sirotkin becoming the favorite.

Besides Kubica and Sirotkin, ditched Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat is also an option, but Williams has now confirmed it will make no decision on its line-up until the new year.

Sirotkin first entered the frame in F1 in 2013 when he became a development driver at Sauber, with Russian backers SMP Racing pushing to get him a race seat for the following year.

Sirotkin missed out on a full-time role at the team, leading him to focus on racing in Formula Renault 3.5 for 2014 before spending two years in GP2, where he finished third in the standings in both seasons.

Renault struck an agreement to sign Sirotkin in a junior role in 2016, leading to a number of practice run-outs over the last two seasons, but he was passed over for a 2018 race seat when it signed Carlos Sainz Jr.

Williams emerged as an option for Sirotkin following a successful maiden test with the team in Abu Dhabi alongside Kubica, with talks now set to continue over the holiday period.

Sirotkin has not taken on a full-time race program this year, making just a single competitive appearance in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with SMP Racing in the LMP2 class.

Sirotkin has also been involved in the development of the team’s BR Engineering-designed LMP1 car for the 2018 FIA World Endurance Championship season, and is likely to secure a seat should he miss out on the role at Williams.