Perhaps the other big surprise in the Leaders Circle announcement is confirmation that the third of last year's entries to be formally dropped is the Team Penske car of Ryan Briscoe, meaning that the Australian is in urgent need of a new race seat before the season opener in St Petersburg on March 24.
Of the 24 likely full-time entries in total for the 2013 season, only HVM and Dale Coyne Racing are yet to announce their driver line-up, although Justin Wilson is expected to take one of the Dale Coyne seats and former F1 driver Narain Karthikeyan has recently been linked to the other.
This year's only confirmed entries not to receive Leaders Circles funds are the new second cars being fielded for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, to be driven by Tristan Vautier and James Jakes respectively. Dragon Racing is also said to be hoping to find funds and an additional Chevrolet engine deal to put Britain's Katherine Legge back into a second car in 2013.
Hamilton confirms Schmidt partnership extension
Former IndyCar driver Davey Hamilton has confirmed that he will remain as a co-owner of the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports' #77 entry driven by Simon Pagenaud.
Hamilton's status with the team had been described as up in the air last week. SPM confirmed the signing of Tristan Vautier as its second driver, but at the same time it also announced that the team had brought in a new equity partner, Ric Peterson, leading to the change in the squad's name after racing as Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports in 2012. (See story
Hamilton indicated at the time that while he'd worked well with Sam Schmidt last year, it now seemed likely that he would go elsewhere to continue his team ownership activities in 2013. However, subsequent negotiations have bridged the gap and seen Hamilton stay on after all; his involvement with the team comes with substantial financial backing from Hewlett-Packard.
"Ric Peterson and I worked directly on this deal," Hamilton told SPEED.com
on Wednesday. "Sam was busy and couldn't make it, but it was really easy with the Petersons and I think we'll have a great season together."
Hamilton also explained how the new partnership would work.
"The easiest way to explain it is Schmidt Peterson owns the entire team," he said. "The Schmidt Hamilton entry for Simon Pagenaud with HP is the #77 car, and the #55 for Tristan is the Schmidt Peterson entry." He added that it would be "like two entries under one team."