This year’s Indianapolis 500 champion Tony Kanaan will shift from wearing his helmet to his business hat as soon as the weekend’s Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT goes in the books.
Kanaan came into KV Racing Technology – SH in an eleventh hour agreement prior to the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series, and signed a two-year contract to continue with the team through 2013 ahead of the 2012 season. Now a free agent, “TK” will move into overdrive for yet another offseason of working to find the sponsorship to stay on the grid.
“It’s always negotiations; my take on it, this is the new era,” Kanaan admitted during a media teleconference on Wednesday. “You have to put yourself out there and try to sell the product. The more sponsorship you bring, the more resources you can hire, the better things you can have for the team. For me, it’s another day in the office. People are starting to talk about all different things.”
Kanaan said he’ll use the month-long break inbetween Baltimore and Houston in October to go home to Brazil, speak with potential and some current sponsors, and work to “move things along for next year.”
While Kanaan has his options open in terms of where he could drive in 2014, he admitted the ‘500 victory was only step one in the KV building relationship with team principals Kevin Kalkhoven and Jimmy Vasser.
“We’re a fairly young team. I agree totally with Jimmy, we have not accomplished what we have hoped for,” Kanaan said. “Thank God we think like that because if you’re happy winning one race and having four or five podiums a year, that’s not the right mentality to go racing. We started working on the 500 in September of last year with a lot of things that we’ve done, not just in the shop, with the racecar and everything. Obviously it paid off. Now we look at each other and say, ‘OK, we need to work for 17 races and win a championship.’”
Doubling down on their commitment to electric auto sports, McLaren Racing announced Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast to compete in the 2023 Formula E Series (FE), which completes their driver lineup.
The NEOM McLaren FE team was formed by the acquisition of the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team that won the 2021 and 2022 championships with Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries behind the wheel.
“Today’s announcement feels like a long time coming,” said Ian James, managing director of NEOM McLaren Electric Racing in a release. “Since May this year, when we first announced McLaren Racing’s entry into Formula E, we have been working tirelessly to get in place the best possible team and structure for sustainable success.
“On the one hand, we have been working on the retention of the amazing talent that already was in place before going into the transitional phase. I’m proud to say I think we’ve done a great job on that front.
“On the other hand, we have been focusing on putting in place new processes and new talent – and the latter includes the drivers.”
The driver lineup clasps the two hands together.
Hughes brings 10 years racing experience in single seater cars, including a role with the acquired Mercedes-EQ team as a reserve and development driver for the past two seasons. He is the 2013 BRDC Formula 4 champion and has multiple wins in Formula 2, including two in 2020.
Announced in August, Rast joins the team after earning two podium finishes and six top-fives in 22 career Formula E starts for Audi Sport ABT before returning to the DTM Series last year. Rast’s best finish in Formula E came in the Puebla E Prix when he finished second to teammate Lucas di Grassi by less than a half second.
McLaren’s commitment to Formula E comes one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour in the driver lineup. After a modest start to the season, the McLaren XE drivers crossed the finish line first in Round 4 in Chile, but were assessed a time penalty that dropped them to fifth. Last week in the season finale in Uruguay, they held onto a hard-earned second place finish.