IndyCar 2016 team preview: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

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NBC Sports takes a look through the teams competing in the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series. Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has a lot of new or revived components coming back into play for 2016, with James Hinchcliffe’s return the biggest story to monitor.

Team: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
Engines/aero kits: Honda
Sponsors: Arrow Electronics/Spyder Active Wear (No. 5), SMP Racing (No. 7)

2015 STATS

Races: 16
Wins: 1 (Hinchcliffe 1)
Podiums: 2 (Hinchcliffe 1, Jakes 1)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 1 (Hinchcliffe 1)
Points: 699 (Jakes 257, Briscoe 205, Hinchcliffe 129, Daly 68, Aleshin 40)
Laps Led: 49 (Hinchcliffe 20, Daly 12, Briscoe 10, Jakes 7)
Championship Position: 16th (Jakes), 18th (Briscoe), 23rd (Hinchcliffe), 28th (Daly), 33rd (Aleshin)

2016 LINEUP (Engineers in parentheses) 

5 James Hinchcliffe (Allen McDonald)
7 Mikhail Aleshin (Blair Perschbacher)

2015 RECAP (Jakes, Briscoe, Hinchcliffe, Daly driver recaps)

The script didn’t go to plan at all for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in 2015, although there was enough resiliency to make the year worth it. New lead driver James Hinchcliffe, courtesy of some brilliant strategy from his pit stand, stole a win at NOLA Motorsports Park and for good measure James Jakes added a third place. But it was a false dawn; the season got turned upside down when Hinchcliffe’s near-death accident in Indianapolis 500 practice required something of a miracle from the Holmatro Safety Team and the “Trauma Pit Crew” form IU Medical Center to save his life.

On track, Ryan Briscoe and Conor Daly filled in admirably even if their results didn’t show it. Daly paid particularly strong tribute on Hinchcliffe’s home soil in Toronto, wearing the trademark red gloves with an homage to “the Mayor” on his helmet. Jakes was nothing if not reliable in the second car, even if he was largely anonymous results-wise; Mikhail Aleshin also impressed in a one-off third car outing at Sonoma.

2016 OUTLOOK

This might be the hardest team to project for 2016, because they definitely have win potential with the people in place but the field is so deep that immediate success might be hard to come by. Piers Phillips is the team’s new general manager – the de facto “new Rob Edwards” – and has a strong career history, most recently in sports cars. Hinchcliffe’s return has been a big story of the offseason but where exactly he fits in the fray is hard to determine. He could win, or he could be stuck in the midpack if the Honda aero kit isn’t up to par. Talented and humorous as he is, he’s a real unknown for the year and it’s hard to see him finishing much higher than maybe fifth or sixth in points.

The second car, meanwhile, has an even harder-to-pinpoint situation. There’s a new engineer with Blair Perschbacher replacing Dan Hobbs, and a new driver with Aleshin back replacing Jakes. Yet visa issues delayed Aleshin from running at the final two preseason tests at Phoenix and Sebring, and Gabby Chaves filled in nicely following his last-minute availability. Aleshin got his visa sorted but enters with a relative lack of testing by comparison; meanwhile, Chaves’ preseason work should not go unnoticed.

X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E
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Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.