GP2 champion Leimer keen on F1 seat

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GP2 Series champion Fabio Leimer has said that he would like to secure a seat in Formula One next season after his success in 2013, but the Swiss driver is aware that this may prove to be difficult due to the climate of the driver market.

Leimer was crowed champion of F1’s direct feeder series in Abu Dhabi last weekend, edging out Mercedes reserve driver Sam Bird by twenty points in the final standings. However, despite six of the previous eight GP2 champions going on to find a seat in F1, Leimer has acknowledged that he may face an uphill struggle to follow the example set.

“I hope I can go to Formula One,” Leimer said. “It will be hard, for sure, because there are not many seats free, but I hope I can go to Formula One, and for me it is important to win this championship to help me.

“Now we have to work and push to go up there: of course it would be fantastic to be a race driver or even a third driver, but we will have to work hard and then we’ll see.”

Leimer follows in the footsteps of Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado by winning the championship, but the driver market has changed drastically in the past few years. Now, a drivers financial backing can be just as important as their on-track talent, meaning that many have missed out on seats in the past.

2012 champion Davide Valsecchi has not raced in 2013, instead working as Lotus’ reserve driver, acting as proof of how winning F1’s supposed ‘feeder series’ does not guarantee a drive in the future. GP2’s direct competitor – Formula Renault 3.5 – has spurned F1 drivers such as Jules Bianchi and even Sebastian Vettel. However, 2012 champion Robin Frijns is currently not racing due to a lack of budget, and this year’s winner Kevin Magnussen is in the process of finding a seat in F1. All eyes will be on these youngsters to see if they can fill out the remaining seats and secure a drive in 2014.

James Hinchcliffe on Andretti: ‘It’s certainly the place I want to be’

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Since before the start of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, James Hinchcliffe tirelessly has worked to ensure the future would include a full-time return in 2021.

And with an opportunity to run the final three races this season with Andretti Autosport, there seems a surefire (albeit unlikely) path.

“If I go out and win all three,” Hinchcliffe joked with IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview Friday (watch the video above), “it would be hard for them to say no, right?”

Regardless of whether he can go unbeaten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next weekend or the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida (where he earned his first career win in 2013), Hinchcliffe will have the chance to improve his stock with the team that he knows well and now has an opening among its five cars for 2021.

All three of Hinchcliffe’s starts this season — the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, July 4 at the IMS road course and the Indianapolis 500 — were with Andretti, where he ran full time in IndyCar from 2012-14.

“Obviously, the plan from January 2020 was already working on ’21 and trying to be in a full-time program,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed being reunited with Andretti Autosport, and everybody there has been so supportive. It’s been a very fun year for me on track. It’s been kind of a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways.

“It’s certainly the place I want to be moving forward. We’ve been working on that, working on those conversations. Genesys has been an incredible partner in my three races. We’ll be representing Gainbridge primarily, but Genesys will still have a position on our car in the last three.”

Gainbridge is the primary sponsor of the No. 26 Dallara-Honda that was vacated by Zach Veach, who left the team after it was determined he wouldn’t return in 2021. Hinchcliffe can empathize having lost his ride with Arrow McLaren SP after last season with a year left on his deal.

“You never want to earn a ride at the expense of somebody else in the sense that has happened here with Zach,” Hinchcliffe said. “I feel bad that he’s not able to see out the last three races of his season. I’ve got a lot of respect for him off track. He’s been a teammate this year, a colleague for years before that and honestly a friend for years before that. I’ve got a lot of time for him and his family. I understand a little bit of what it’s like in that position and what he’s going through.”

Hinchcliffe is ready to seize the moment, though, starting with the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had been hoping to add the Harvest Indy Grand Prix to his schedule and had been working out for the possibility.

“Then last week I had given up hope (and) was resigned that wasn’t happening,” he said. “I told my trainer, ‘I think we’re done for this year.’ Three days later, this call comes. I’m glad we didn’t make that decision too early. I feel great physically.

“I look at it as a great opportunity to continue to show I’ve still got what it takes and should be there hopefully full time next year on the grid.”

Watch Hinchliffe’s video with Leigh Diffey above or by clicking here.