Pagenaud: “It’s a tremendous opportunity for my career”

0 Comments

When Roger Penske calls, you have to listen. And that was the overriding point Simon Pagenaud made Monday afternoon, in making the shift to join Team Penske as the fourth member of its Verizon IndyCar Series team.

“It’s definitely the next step in my career,” Pagenaud said during a Team Penske conference call Monday. “I’ve worked my whole life for this, so it’s perfect timing. Helio (Castroneves), Will (Power) and Juan (Pablo Montoya) – having three teammates like them is a huge help as a driver to complete yourself. I’m very excited. It’s a tremendous opportunity for my career.”

While it is a four-driver lineup, immediate focus will shift on Pagenaud and Power being under the same roof.

The two were teammates during Pagenaud’s first full year in the Champ Car series, in 2007, then driving for Derrick Walker’s Team Australia. This past year, the two drivers butted heads on occasion in what was one of IndyCar’s best rivalries.

“Will is the champion,” Pagenaud said. “He’s a tremendous driver. Yes we’ve had our contact on track, but you need to grow as a driver. We’ve known each other for a long time, and enjoyed working together at the time.

“Our job to make it work, for all of us. I don’t see any problem why it won’t work.”

He hasn’t talked to Power since this news broke, but Pagenaud did confirm all four drivers will be together at a Verizon event on Tuesday.

Speaking of commercial partners and/or personnel, Team Penske president Tim Cindric said no determinations have been made on either of those yet.

It remains to be seen whether Pagenaud’s longtime engineer, Ben Bretzman, will make the shift over as well.

No date has been set for a first test, although Cindric confirmed Pagenaud will be out before the end of the year.

Cindric did confirm Pagenaud will run No. 22 next season. The choice is an intriguing one because Team Penske also runs the No. 22 in NASCAR and has Shell and Pennzoil sponsorship already present; in years past, it has served as a full-time associate and occasional primary sponsor of Castroneves’ No. 3 car.

Power, Montoya and Castroneves are set to run Nos. 1, 2 and 3 next season, per Cindric, so 4 could have been an option.

Cindric explained the courting process of reaching out to Pagenaud, and how it differed from the team adding a third car for Montoya last offseason.

“The fortunate thing is we have an owner committed to winning and to opportunity,” Cindric said. “We have to have those resources in place to where it can stand on its own.

“This is different than a Montoya situation, because we didn’t have one discussion whatsoever. This one, we had the process in place beyond our existing sponsors.

“We have a very good marketing team. With the length of this offseason, we have more time to raise those budgets.”

One of the other items Pagenaud addressed were rumors he’d been approached by Nissan to drive for its LMP1 program, which will premiere in the FIA World Endurance Championship in 2015.

“I’ve been always interested in sports car, have had a great career, but my goal was to go back to IndyCar in 2012,” he said. “I had a successful time and great opportunities. Yes I’ve been in talks with Nissan, good talks, but I was interested in my opportunities in IndyCar.”

Lastly, Pagenaud thanked Honda for all they’d done for his career, but said the lure of driving for Penske was key to his choice to switch to a Chevrolet squad.

“They’ve done a lot for me. It’s been a great relationship, but sometimes you have to choose. My dream has been to drive for Roger.”

NEOM McLaren Formula E announces Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast for 2023 season

McLaren Formula E Hughes
McLaren Racing
0 Comments

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.