James Jakes

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports personnel will have to be specific when addressing their Verizon IndyCar Series drivers. Maybe "JJ" and "JH"?

James Jakes will join James Hinchcliffe for the 16-race season that opens March 27-29 with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Jakes, who has made 50 starts in the series, tested last week alongside Hinchcliffe at NOLA Motorsports Park.

“First of all, a big thank you to Schmidt Peterson Motorsports for giving me the opportunity to test last week in NOLA after 16 months away,” said Jakes, 27, of England. “I’m extremely excited and motivated to drive the No. 7 Honda SPM Indy car in 2015. The team has done a fantastic job over the past few seasons and I look forward to continuing that progress.

"I believe that – between myself and James – we can really push the team to the top of this sport. I’m excited to be working alongside him as we look to help Honda in maximizing the new aero kits. It’s going to be an exciting year and I cannot wait to get started in St. Pete.”

Jakes contested the 2013 season with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (career-best start and finish of second at Belle Isle 2) among three top-10 finishes. He drove one of the Dale Coyne Racing cars in 2011-12.

“The goal of the team when it moved to IndyCar in 2011 was to get to the point where we had two veteran drivers in the car, capable of pushing each other," team co-owner Sam Schmidt said. "This finally checks that box. Even with 16 months out of the car, James was immediately up to speed at NOLA last week and contributed to the successful test of the team. We look forward to continuing the tradition that has been established over the past three seasons of winning races and competing for the championship.”

Simon Pagenaud and series rookie Mikhail Aleshin drove the Nos. 7 and 77 cars last season. Pagenaud, who placed fifth in the championship, moved on to Team Penske and Aleshin, of Russia, will compete in sports car in Europe this season.

“We’re confident that James will be a great addition to the SPM team. He knows the IndyCar landscape and he has impressed us, both in and out of the race car," team co-owner Ric Peterson added. "Over the past several years, we have aimed at developing a group of talented drivers who fit seamlessly into the culture of our great team. We feel that James meets those criteria and we’re happy to welcome him to SPM.”