2012 Firestone Indy Lights champion Tristan Vautier has been promoted to a second car at Schimidt/Peterson/Motorsports. Vautier won the FIL title last year for SPM in winning four races from the pole position. He joins fellow Frenchman Simon Pagenaud with the team.
Pagenaud was superb in his rookie season in 2012. He nearly won several times and was a factor in the championship all season. He took home rookie of the year honors while finishing fifth in the final season standings.
Vautier has a connection with Pagenaud as both should be contenders all year long.
“I mean, to me if there’s one thing I learned, I keep putting in the back of my brain from the many years of Indy Lights competition, is chemistry,” said team owner Sam Schmidt. “Even though we have a new chassis package, it’s still a relatively spec format in that same tires, same chassis, similar neck-and-neck power situation. When you have that format, it all comes down to the driver and the chemistry with the people who are on the team.
“I think we definitely had a lot of that really good momentum and mojo last year with Simon, the group of guys that he has. The strategy and the situation is not to mix that up, not to take a step back with that, but really to fill in some gaps.”
Vautier said, “I was in discussions with Sam since the end of the season, but things got more serious after the test that I had. I have been really wanting that opportunity. I wanted to stay with Sam, to step up to the big cars.”
Pagenaud said Vautier should step in right away and not have many problems. “Obviously there’s a few things he hasn’t done like pit stops and things like that that he’s going to have to learn. But he’s a quick learner, a quick Frenchman, as well.”
Vautier worked his way up the IndyCar ladder through Star Mazda to Indy Lights now to the top series. He won a championship in both stepping stones on his way up. An IZOD IndyCar Series championship will complete the job.
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