Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports
The cast: Drivers – Simon Pagenaud and Tristan Vautier. Chief engineers – Allen McDonald (Vautier) and Ben Bretzman (Pagenaud). Race strategists – Dave Higuera (Vautier) and Rob Edwards (Pagenaud)
Twitter: @simonpagenaud, @TristanVautier, @SPMIndyCar
The cars: No. 55 Honda-powered Dallara with multiple race primary sponsors (Vautier) and No. 77 Honda-powered Dallara with HP primary sponsorship
The stats: Simon Pagenaud earned his initial IZOD IndyCar Series victory in the second race of the Detroit doubleheader, leading 18 laps after starting sixth. He followed with a victory in Baltimore three months later. ... Overall, he recorded 13 top-10 finishes, including five in a row from Mid-Ohio (runner-up finish) through the second race at Houston (sixth place), in the 19 races. ... Had consecutive sixth-place finishes on the Iowa and Pocono ovals, with best qualifying position of ninth (Milwaukee and Pocono) on the ovals. ... Had best qualifying effort of third at Baltimore; advanced to four Firestone Fast Six sessions, including three in a row late in the season. ... Had average finish of 8.3 and average starting position of 11.6. ... Tristan Vautier, the 2012 Firestone Indy Lights champion, started the season by qualifying sixth at St. Petersburg and third at Barber Motorsports Park. Tenth at Barber was his season-best and lone top-10 finish. He added five other finishes in the top 15. ... The Sunoco Rookie of the Year had an average finish of 16.3 and average starting position of 16.5. He finished 20th in the championship standings.
The gist: Pagenaud, who moved from fifth in the championship standings in his first season (2012) to third this past season, already has been on the track testing the twin turbocharged Honda engine. He'll get additional track time this week at Sebring International Raceway. Pagenaud will be joined by Mikael Aleshin, who last month was announced as the driver of the No. 55 car for the 2014 season. Aleshin was the 2010 Formula Renault 3.5 champion. ... The team will have to replace sponsor Hewlett-Packard, and team co-owner Sam Schmidt said he and Davey Hamilton have been discussing his involvement for 2014.
He said it: Team co-owner Sam Schmidt:
“We knew when we entered IndyCar in 2011 that there would be more information and benefits from the combined effort of a two-car team. We took it in stages though and ultimately we’re a better team because of it. In 2012, it was great to finish fifth in the championship and we came away from that with a checklist of things that we wanted to improve on for 2013. I think we addressed those issues, which contributed to Simon finishing third in the championship this year. I think on the second car this year we had some growing pains and challenges but we learned so much. We’re going to be even more competitive with the second car next year. I think this team has great chemistry and we’re really headed in the right direction. I have extremely high expectations for next year, too.
“Competing at this high of a level is about the whole package. It’s not just about the driver or the car or the engineers. It takes everyone working in the same direction, especially when you don’t have all the resources of the bigger teams. We just have to work that much harder with what we do have. We’ve been very efficient on that front and Simon has been a great role model for the whole team. His strong association with Honda has also strengthened our team from a development standpoint. From the time we got together with Simon in 2011 until now we have just had a fantastic experience.”