F1 refugee Luiz Razia may turn his attention to trying to crack the US motorsport scene after showing well in a recent Indy Lights test.
The Brazilian was an F1 race driver for a matter of weeks in 2013, but never actually got to start a race after sponsorship funding failed to materialise. Despite hoping to run him, the Marussia team was forced to replace Razia with fellow rookie Jules Bianchi, and the former GP2 Series runner-up – Razia duelled with erstwhile Lotus reserve Davide Valsecchi for the 2012 title – sat out the remainder of the season.
Despite expressing a desire to try again, and finding his name linked to the Force India team midway through 2013, Razia has now turned his eye to the USA, where he would follow a glut of countrymen hoping to crack the open-wheel scene. The Brazilian, who raced a GT car when his F1 ambitions fell apart last year, admits that Indy Lights could be an option for 2014 as he attempts to learn the ropes for a graduation to the full IndyCar Series.
Razia ran with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports during this week's Sebring open test, sharing an awning with GP3 convert Jack Harvey and Juan Piedrahita, and showed well during 143 laps in the unfamiliar machine.
“I visited some IndyCar teams and Indy Lights teams and my manager came up with this test with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, which is the perfect team for me because they have so many championships and much knowledge,” the 24-year old told the official IndyCar website, “Any opportunity that leads to something bigger is great.
“To be honest, I know I have the speed and talent to be in [the IndyCar Series], but also it's good to know the business around the series, the people, how the competition is, the rules and the tracks. If it was in Europe, I know all the tracks, but here it's all different and you have to be a very fast runner to be competitive straight away. Indy Lights is a series that can promote you to Indy and we'll explore it.
“All my life I drove for an F1 career so, when sponsorship dropped out, it was pretty hard for me. It was like the end of a dream. I [completed] the year driving sports cars, [and] we won the championship, but that was a low-profile championship in Europe. We kind of took it back to the ground after that and my manager told me a lot about America.
“It's good to be back in a single-seater. I was not happy in the GT; I'm a single-seater guy. I like to set up the car and work with engineers. It's just a much better feeling. You don't have to share the car with anyone else.”
“The [Schmidt-Petersen] team is very organised, [and] the car is old but a lot of fun. It's a bit of a downgrade on power, but that doesn't mean the fun is out. The gearshift brings me back to the days when I drove F3...”