KV Racing Technology co-owner Jimmy Vasser sees no reason why new signing Sebastian Saavedra should not be a contender in 2014, despite a difficult start to his IndyCar career.
The Colombian was officially confirmed as team-mate to former Dragon Racing sparring partner Sebastien Bourdais on Wednesday, as KVRT teamed up with AFS Racing owner Gary Peterson in a strategic partnership to field an entry for the #17 Dallara-Chevrolet.
The deal to bring Saavedra on board was not on many radar screens prior to the announcement, but Vasser revealed that the idea had been germinating for some time.
“It actually started with Sebastian and myself bumping into each other at an airport, I think it might have been La Guardia heading to Toronto,” he explained, “We thought we would keep in touch and see how things progressed, not knowing really at that point where either ways were going to go for next season.
“Then [we were] having discussions with Gary over the wintertime, just general discussions, getting to know each other, really on kind of a friendship basis initially, just listening and seeing what was going to happen. We weren't sure what was going to happen with our second car at the time, we were just trying to keep all options open.
Things started to progress over the last 30 days and, lo and behold, here we are. I think it's a very exciting situation for us, keeping the two Sebs together for a second year. I'm familiar with how team-mate situations work, as I've been in them before. Usually, the first season is a little bit awkward with new team-mates, but I think they've gotten that out of the way. They know how they work together good and how they work together bad. I think that will be beneficial.”
Although Saavedra's previous IndyCar involvement has been mercurial at best, Vasser believes that there is potential waiting to be unlocked.
“Obviously, with Conquest, he came in aggressive, and went through some hardships early on in his career at Indianapolis,” he reflected, “It takes a lot of mettle to do that. Last year, early on, qualifying in the Fast Six, and really kind of being very competitive, if not in qualifying form outpacing Bourdais, was very, very impressive.
“The speed is there. Everybody knows it takes a few years to kind of get comfortable in the series, really start finding your legs. We expect him to really get into a rhythm [in 2014]. Maybe he's missed a few tests here, but we're going on to Sebring after this, then Texas and Barber. There should be plenty of seat time for him to get comfortable with the new engineers for him and the team.”