HVM Racing looks set to return to the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2013 after all, after being among the teams selected to receive a subsidy of at least $1 million dollars from the championship's Leaders Circle program.
The program distributes revenue raised from the series' commercial income in 2013 - including TV rights and sanctioning fees - among the various full-time competitors in an effort to ensure the quality of on-track competition is balanced throughout the field. To actually receive the funds, the entrant must successfully qualify for the Indianapolis 500 in May.
Last year the series limited the subsidies to 20 teams, but this time the organisers have used their discretionary powers to extend the program to all 22 returning full-time entries in the 2013 season. That will include Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing's Josef Newgarden as well as one of the Dragon Racing entries - almost certainly that of Sebastien Bourdais - which otherwise would not have been eligible.
But the surprise is the additional inclusion of HVM Racing in the list of Leaders Circle recipients, as the team's participation in the new season had been thought to be in considerable doubt until this point following the exit of their former driver Simona de Silvestro to take up a seat at KV Racing Technology. (See story
De Silvestro had been with HVM since her IndyCar début in 2010, and her departure also meant the team lost her sizeable personal sponsorship backing from Entergy Nuclear, AREVA and the Nuclear Clean Air Energy campaign, seemingly leaving HVM with little left in the cupboard with which to mount a 2013 entry.
The team's exit from IndyCar became even more likely last month when it announced a partnership with Status GP to field a Lola Coupe in the LMP2 class of the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship. (See story
But the Leaders Circle funds mean that HVM will indeed be back in IndyCar in 2013, even though no formal announcement has yet been made and no drivers have been linked with the now-vacant race seat. The team said on Wednesday that their car would be a co-branded entry with another operation.
“We'll be collaborating with another team on our entry, the details of which will be revealed shortly,” said team owner Keith Wiggins, who confirmed that the Leaders Circle funds had been received contingent on that to-be-confirmed relationship.
HVM's inclusion among the teams receiving the $1 million subsidy was only possible because three of last year's entries are no longer running: Ganassi has stepped down to a three-car team with the departure of Graham Rahal to Rahal Letterman Lanigan for this season, while KV Racing is set to be a two-car line-up after losing both EJ Viso and Rubens Barrichello in exchange for de Silvestro running alongside retained team stalwart Tony Kanaan.