Tristan Vautier has succeeded in clinching a full-season race seat in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship, and will drive for the newly-named Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in 2013.
“I've been talking with team owner Sam Schmidt since the end of last season in Fontana, but I just found out late last week that it was actually going to happen,” said the reigning Firestone Indy Lights champion on Tuesday.
Sam Schmidt was equally delighted with the announcement. “We achieved success with Simon Pagenaud last season as a properly run single-car team, but I believe we'll be even better with two cars given the chemistry of the package and personnel we have put together for this program,” he said.
Schmidt has brought on board a new equity partner, Ric Peterson, which means that the former Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports team in 2012 will now be rechristened Schmidt Peterson Motorsports for the new season. Former IndyCar driver Davey Hamilton could still remain a co-owner of the team, although that is still to be confirmed.
"We absolutely, positively wouldn't be where we are today without Davey's involvement," confirmed Schmidt. "Davey's a good team owner to have because he shows no stress and pressure. It's enjoyable to have people who have confidence in me. It makes me want to do better."
Simon Pagenaud will also continue at the wheel of the team's #77 entry after securing the rookie of the year title in 2012, and was excited by the addition of his compatriot Vautier to the line-up.
“This is a big step for SPM's IndyCar program, which is great news because it shows our team is growing,” said Pagenaud. “Tristan has earned the right to move up, and the fact that he is also French is great! I'm really looking forward to working with him."
“You really need to run two cars to reap the benefits of two sets of data and vie for the championship at this level," explained Schmidt of the team's determination to expand to a two-car line-up in 2013.
“As a one-car team last year Simon was often on an island,” added SPM general manager Rob Edwards. “The addition of Tristan will allow Simon to have data and information that was not available in 2012.”
Vautier has already been working with the new SPM second car squad in winter tests at Sebring International Raceway.