United Fiber & Data announces IndyCar return; capacity, driver TBD

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Andretti Autosport has three of its four 2014 cars locked down for next year, and the potential exists for the team to add a fifth full-time car for the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season per Michael Andretti’s wishes expressed ahead of the Milwaukee IndyFest race.

Meanwhile one of Andretti’s 2014 commercial partners appears set to return to IndyCar for 2015 and beyond.

United Fiber & Data, which upped its involvement this year to become primary sponsor of both James Hinchcliffe’s IndyCar and Matthew Brabham’s Indy Lights car, addressed rumors it might not be returning with a declarative “we’re here, and we’re staying” tweet on Labor Day Monday.

UFD’s presence this year has extended beyond the drivers themselves. Their activation has included the UFD Girls, who were present at all Verizon IndyCar Series races this season.

As for whose racecars UFD will be adorning next year, that still remains a mystery.

Hinchcliffe does not yet have a contract signed, but is working towards returning with Andretti Autosport for 2015.

Brabham’s status is yet to be determined with Andretti not yet having committed to an Indy Lights program next year, as that series prepares to introduce the new Dallara IL15 chassis.

Michael Andretti told MotorSportsTalk at Milwaukee he “has a lot of time” for Brabham and will look to keep him involved under the team fold in some way, shape or form over the offseason and into 2015.

UFD returning is a good thing – and we await to see whether it will be an encore for Hinchcliffe and UFD in the No. 27 Honda or whether it could potentially shift within the paddock.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.