Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has signed 26-year-old Russian Mikhail Aleshin to drive their second entry for the 2014 IndyCar season. Aleshin will be replacing Tristan Vautier, who is now without a ride for the upcoming season. The news caught some by surprise, as Aleshin’s first time to ever sit in an IndyCar came just four days ago when he tested with the team at Sebring.
Mikhail will become the first Russian driver to join the IndyCar series. While some may see him as a ride-buyer, he clearly has some talent. He won the Formula Renault 3.5 Championship in 2010, and did some Formula 1 testing with Red Bull before he decided to make a move towards the IndyCar series. The opportunities just aren’t there in F1.
Aleshin referred to “change” as a major reason for his move to IndyCar. He wanted new competition, new tracks, and a new car. He’s got all of them now. While he admits the competition will be fierce, he said he believes that he’ll be competitive. “Ovals will be hard, but I’m here to learn and compete for good results.” He will have a good teammate in Simon Pagenaud, who will help get him up to speed as quickly as possible. Pagenaud won 2 races last season, and finished in third place in the championship standings.
In addition to F1 testing and competing in the Formula Renault 3.5 series, Aleshin has raced in GP2, the Formula 2 series, and Sports Cars since 2006.