Erstwhile F1 hopeful Mikhail Aleshin has been revealed as the latest addition to the 2014 IndyCar Series line-up.
The 26-year old Russian, who most recently competed in the World Series by Renault, has signed to drive Schmidt Peterson Motorsports' second entry as team-mate to Simon Pagenaud next season.
Aleshin, who had been linked to a possible F1 move before being overtaken in the race to be the first Russian in the category by the likes of Vitaly Petrov and, from 2014, Daniil Kvyat, tested with SPM at Sebring International Raceway earlier this week. The Muscovite tested with both Lotus and Red Bull before sponsorship issues forced him to turn back to the WSbR, which he won – ahead of imminent Red Bull F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo – in 2010.
“[Sebring] was my first test in an IndyCar and things were much different than what I'm used to inside a car,” Aleshin said, “In Europe, there are different standards, but I like [this car] already - it's really fun to drive.
“The last two or three years, I've been looking in this direction and, at one point in the middle of the 2013 season, I decided that I just needed to change something. SMP Racing, my main sponsor, decided it would be a good idea to try something in the US because there are no Russian drivers at this level and, considering the experience I have, we thought it would all come together [in IndyCar].”
Team owner Sam Schmidt's operation is on the rise after a strong 2013 campaign spearheaded by Pagenaud's two wins and third place in the overall standings.
“We are extremely pleased to have Mikhail partnered with Simon for the 2014 season,” Schmidt said, ”He is extremely mature and talented but, like so many up-and-coming drivers in the European system, there just weren't enough opportunities for him to advance to F1. We have already found his driving style to be very similar to Simon's and believe he can contribute immediately to the programme, even as a rookie.”
“I can't wait to see how Mikhail's success in competing against some of the biggest stars of the European racing scene will translate in IndyCar and with our team in particular,” co-owner Ric Peterson added, “We proved in 2013 that we can challenge the biggest teams in our sport and the addition of this young, talented driver will only elevate us further.”