The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team has announced that Russian racer Mikhail Aleshin will join its ranks for the 2014 IndyCar Series championship season.
The 26-year-old will replace Tristan Vautier in the team’s line-up, and serve as teammate to the experienced Simon Pagenaud, who remains with the team for a third year.
The announcement follows a successful off-season test for the team at Florida’s Sebring Raceway. Despite having never travelled to the United States before, Aleshin performed well on the unfamiliar circuit, which convinced team co-owner Sam Schmidt to sign the 2010 Formula Renault 3.5 champion.
A veteran in the junior open-wheel racing ranks, Aleshin is confident that his skill will translate to the IndyCar scene, despite his lack of familiarity with any of the circuits on next year’s calendar.
“I’ve been racing in Europe for a long time and have had success there and driving more or less everything I could. But I decided to change because I just wanted a new competition with new tracks and a new car,” Aleshin said.
“It was always interesting to me how things were going over here in INDYCAR. The last three years I was thinking about it a lot, and now I’ve committed to do this and would like to thank my partners at SMP Racing for making this happen.
“I knew the competition is quite strong and it would be hard for me, especially because I’ve never raced any American circuits. It’s a big thing to do, but I think I’ll be competitive. Ovals will be hard, but I’m here to learn and compete for good results.”
Aleshin will carry the sponsorship of Russian personal and corporate financial services group, SMP Bank, on his car next year.