Crash.Net IndyCar News
Filippi linked to Rahal seat
14 February 2012
Luca Filippi's fairy-tale storming run to the runners-up spot in the 2011 GP2 championship following a mid-season switch to Scuderia Coloni almost stole the headlines from the series champion Romain Grosjean.
Yet while Grosjean got his reward with a seat at Lotus F1, and other GP2 drivers including Charles Pic also got called up to the Grand Prix paddock, Filippi himself was conspicuously unwanted by the F1 teams despite his success.
Now it seems that the 26-year-old Italian has got the message and set his sights on finding success in the US instead.
According to reports from the US, Filippi is the current favourite to take any second seat at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing alongside Takuma Sato. RLL have a deal for two Honda engines for 2012, and Filippi is well connected with the engine manufacturer having been a test driver for the former Honda F1 operation.
Filippi has been linked to the RLL seat since late 2011 by "multiple sources" according to SPEED.com, but everything hinges on whether team co-owner Bobby Rahal can pull off all the necessary business deals to make it financial viable.
"It's the usual deal. We're very close on the second car, have contracts going back and forth," Rahal told reporters on Monday.
"[Then] there's a line that needs to be adjusted or whatever, and the contracts make another round for review. It's ordinary stuff, but I think we'll be in good shape shortly."
Rahal then lobbed in a small hand grenade into the discussion by adding: "And we also have a third car in play that's also close."
Former Champ Car driver Michel Jourdain might be the driver Rahal has in mind for the third seat if it does happen.
Since leaving Champ Car at the end of 2004, the Mexican has tried his hand in WTCC, A1GP, WRC and the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
Whoever gets the nod, the driver line-up should become clear very soon. With RLL already behind the majority of teams when it comes to on-track testing of the new car, Rahal promised that “You'll see at least two cars at the Barber [Motorsports Park] test next week."
Multiple cars means at least one more driver lining up alongside Sato in Alabhama - whether that's Filippi, Jourdain or someone else entirely remains to be seen.Schmidt/Hamilton to pair up?SPEED.com
is reporting that the Sam Schmidt Motorsports team is set to expand to a two-car line-up for 2012, by partnering up with Davey Hamilton for the new season.
Hamilton drove for SSM in their first attempt to break into the IndyCar series in 2001. He will probably be able to bring with him financial backing from longtime sponsor Hewlett Packard to make the combined venture possible.
“We're painting cars as we speak,” team boss Sam Schmidt told SPEED at the end of last week. “We're working diligently on a second car."
Hamilton has made it known that he intends to step away from racing in the future and concentrate on team ownership, so the race seat in the Schmidt/Hamilton car could go to 24-year-old British driver Martin Plowman, who impressed in his three IndyCar outings in 2011.
The seat could be shared with other drivers, with New Zealand's Wade Cunningham and Japan's Hideki Mutoh also likely to benefit from outings.