IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Tristan Vautier


MotorSportsTalk continues its look through the Verizon IndyCar Series field, driver-by-driver, with a look at Tristan Vautier. From not having a ride at the start of the year to being on the verge of one again with Dale Coyne Racing next year, Vautier made the most of most of his opportunities.

Tristan Vautier, No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda

  • 2013: 20th Place, Best Finish 10th, Best Start 3rd, 1 Top-10, 2 Laps Led, 16.5 Avg. Start, 16.3 Avg. Finish
  • 2015: 22nd Place (11 Starts), Best Finish 4th, Best Start 11th, 1 Top-5, 2 Top-10, 10 Laps Led, 20.3 Avg. Start, 16.5 Avg. Finish

A strange odyssey of a year for Vautier saw him lose rides he thought he had, gain rides he wasn’t expecting, make a couple mistakes, but ultimately deliver enough consistency and stability to produce results.

Vautier became the latest top-level driver to enjoy a stint with Dale Coyne’s team, which isn’t a bad thing. Talented shoes such as the late Justin Wilson, Bruno Junqueira, Oriol Servia, Cristiano da Matta and Alex Lloyd – who like Vautier all won championships in junior open-wheel formulas – have passed through those halls. Considering he was in a poor spot after a rookie 2013 season with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports that failed to meet expectations, re-entering with almost zero expectations in the friendly confines of the Illinois-based team’s operation was a great thing for him.

As such, he got better as the year went on. After his car rotation at Indianapolis, a fluke fourth occurred at Detroit and a similarly good sixth happened at Mid-Ohio after leading, both thanks to typically brilliant Coyne fuel gambles that played out. But even more than those two, the drive that stood out to me was Iowa, where he finished on the lead lap in 12th, having finally felt comfortable on the whole with the car, the team, and with ace engineer Michael Cannon.

A glaring mistake came at Pocono, when Vautier got a run on championship contender Graham Rahal going into Turn 3 and took them both out. In hindsight, it was a move he probably could have avoided making, but you understand why he went for it.

Comparing results in Coyne cars must be viewed differently – a 16th or 17th in this field is the equivalent of say an ninth or 10th for other teams – with anything beyond that a bonus. Usually, Vautier exceeded the equipment at his disposal, and he was the perfect driver to stabilize the lineup after a rocky first few races as the team rotated drivers. It was a significantly better second season for him than his first in 2013.

IndyCar disappointed by delay of video game but aiming to launch at start of 2024

IndyCar video game 2024

An IndyCar executive said there is “absolutely” disappointment that its long-awaited video game recently was delayed beyond its target date, but the series remains optimistic about the new title.

“Well, I don’t know how quick it will be, but the whole situation is important to us,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said during a news conference Monday morning to announce IndyCar’s NTT title sponsorship. “Motorsport Games has spent a lot of money, a lot of effort to create an IndyCar title. What we’ve seen of that effort, which is not completely obvious, is very reassuring.

“I think it’s going to be outstanding. That’s our shared objective, that when it is released, it’s just widely accepted. A great credit both to IndyCar racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, something that our fans love.”

In June 2021, IndyCar announced a new partnership with Motorsport Games to create and distribute an IndyCar video game for the PC and Xbox and PlayStation consoles in 2023.

But during an earnings call last week, Motorsport Games said the IndyCar game had been delayed to 2024 to ensure high quality.

Somewhat compounding the delay is that IndyCar’s license for iRacing expired after the end of the 2022 season because of its exclusive agreement with Motorsport Games.

That’s resulted in significant changes for IndyCar on iRacing, which had provided a high-profile way for the series to stay visible during its 2020 shutdown from the pandemic. (Players still can race an unbranded car but don’t race on current IndyCar tracks, nor can they stream).

That’s helped ratchet up the attention on having a video game outlet for IndyCar.

“I wish we had an IndyCar title 10 years ago,” said Miles, who has been working with the organization since 2013. “We’ve been close, but we’ve had these I think speed bumps.”

IndyCar is hopeful the Motorsports Game edition will be ready at the start of 2024. Miles hinted that beta versions could be unveiled to reporters ahead of the time “to begin to show the progress in a narrow way to make sure we’ve got it right, to test the progress so that we’re ready when they’re ready.”

It’s been nearly 18 years since the release of the most recent IndyCar video game for console or PC.

“(We) better get it right,” Miles said. “It’s something we’re very close to and continue to think about what it is to make sure we get it over the line in due course.”