Oh Canada, my home and native…#TeamCanada #TeamBFF #TeamCanadaPlusHarveyInATechnicalPartnership (that may be too long of a hashtag). However you refer to them, 2018 I believe is going to be a banner year for Schmidt Peterson Motorsport – and spoiler alert I am ALL IN. Once their new stuff is in the store.
We’ll start with returning legend – James Hinchcliffe. Indiana’s Sweetheart, Canada’s fastest import, and good beard game. 2017 was a fair season for him. He had a first place finish, two other podiums, and an additional four top ten finishes. Conversely, though, he had six DNFs, now three were for contact and three were for issues with the car. I think a big push in 2018 would finish the race and keep that car running like a dream. Leena Gade, who SPM brought on at the end of the season, seems to be just the person to do it. Gade’s experience brings two LeMans championships, if you can engineer a car to survive twenty-four hours of driving, you can get an IndyCar to run smoothly for races. I again just want to commend Sam Schmidt for his comment about Leena during the Pheonix testing when he indicated she was the best for the job who just “happened to be a female” (not an exact quote). By the way – that’s true feminism a woman getting a great job because she has a resume, she just happens to be a woman.
Schmidt swapped a Russian for another Canadian. Aleshin is Aleshout. I know Schmidt looked at the performance of Aleshin, but looking at his stats for the past two years, they are consistent. 3 DNFs each year, approximately three top-ten finishes each year. It’s a better showing than other drivers on the paddock. . . Aleshin is out, and Robert Wickens, the BFF, is in.* Look for Wickens to do well; he pulls from a depth of racing: DTM, where he claimed overall victory in 2013 and 2014, and open wheel. He was reserve driver for the now-defunct Marussia team and when he tested for both Marussia and Lotus he was pretty darn fast. I’m not going to call a perfect season for Wickens. He’s got a bit of a learning curve with being out of open wheel for a few years, but he’s got the “maturity” (you have to put that word in quotes in dealing with a team that used their fellow driver as a curling stone…or when discussing SPM drivers in general) that will allow him to pick up the car quicker.
Attached, but not attached, with SPM is the Michael Shank Racing entry of Jack Harvey. MSR has partnered with SPM for the technical aspect, but the MSR team is based out of Ohio and not Indianapolis (you’re missing tax breaks). This year will be MSR’s real commitment to IndyCar, with putting Harvey in for six races throughout the calendar. They picked well with Harvey. Runner-up in both 2014 and 2015 in the Indy Lights league (and really 2014 he tied with Gabby Chaves but lost to a tiebreaker). He also filled in for the last two races for Aleshin in the 2017 season. The car is going to be a struggle for Harvey – as it is for all recent Indy Lights graduates given the sheer increase in downforce. It’ll be a solid year for Harvey. I expect him to do okay.
I’m now just waiting on the new SPM stuff to get into the online store – I’m ready for rep for this team.
*is it just me or does Wickens sorta look like a happy woodland creature?
Catch up on the team reviews here: Andretti Autosport, Team Penske, Carlin Racing, Harding Racing, AJ Foyt Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing, Schmidt Peterson Motorsport, Michael Shank Racing Dale Coyne Racing
Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash