Schmidt Peterson Motorsports have been one of the busiest teams on the Verizon IndyCar Series grid over the 2017 off-season. The team have two new drivers in Verizon IndyCar Series rookie, Canadian Robert Wickens who makes his full-time series debut in the No.6 Lucas Oil Honda.
The team have brought in Jack Harvey on a partial season programme which starts with this weekend’s Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg.
The team also have James Hinchcliffe back in the No.5 Arrow Electronics Honda for the 2018 season. The biggest piece of news to come out of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports over the winter however was the news that English race engineer Leena Gade has traded the World Endurance Championship in for the Verizon IndyCar Series to become the first female lead race engineer. Leena will be looking after the Mayor of HinchTown starting with this weekend’s Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg.
Speaking ahead of the race this weekend, Hinchcliffe commented by saying:
“Everybody always looks forward to St. Pete, it’s such a great place to start the season. I know every year we say it feels like a long offseason, but this offseason, for us, even though it’s been busy with all the testing for Honda, it really makes you miss racing that much more. At the end of the day, we’re not test drivers, we’re race drivers, and getting to that first race weekend is always special. There’s been a lot of change, not only with the 2018 aero kit but internally at SPM personnel-wise. So we’re really anxious to get ourselves into a race weekend situation to see how we all perform and start picking out how we can improve and build this team up to be regular contenders. I’m excited for (teammate) Robbie’s (Wickens) first race, (race engineer) Leena’s (Gade) first race, first race of the 2018 kit – there’s a lot of stuff to look forward to.
For Hinch’s fellow Canadian, Robert Wickens the six month wait is finally over as he begins a new chapter in his motorsport career. Wickens, who will drive the No.6 Lucas Oil Honda commented on the start of the new season by saying:
I’ve been waiting for this moment for about six months now since the announcement came out that I was joining INDYCAR. We’ve worked a lot this winter getting me comfortable in the Lucas Oil car. We’ve gone testing, now what’s next is to go racing. I think we’ve done a pretty good job so far through testing, but we won’t really know for sure until we get into the first race. I’m just really eager to get started and get to St. Pete. I’ve heard the track’s great, the fans are great, and now I just want to live it for Sam (Schmidt). All around, I’m just very excited.
This weekend will see Schmidt Peterson Motorsport run three cars in the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg after reaching an agreement with Michael Shank to run Jack Harvey for six races.
Harvey will drive the No.60 AutoNation/Sirius XM MSR/wSPM Honda and speaking ahead of the start of the new season he commented by saying:
I am really excited to be racing at the season opener of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series. St. Pete has been kind to me in the past, so hopefully we can carry that on this year. We are a new team. It’s the first race. We know our expectations and will do our best to deliver. I have all the confidence in the world in both Michael Shank Racing and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, and I am ready more than ever to kick off the season with a strong debut outing.