In a move that will be officially announced by Schmidt Peterson Motorsports on Tuesday, SPEED's Marshall Pruett has confirmed already. 2012 Firestone Indy Lights Champion Tristan Vautier will drive the 2013 season for SPM in their second car in the IZOD IndyCar Series. Vautier won the Indy Lights title driving for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
He will team with fellow Frenchman Simon Pagenaud at SPM. Vautier had an impressive IndyCar testing session driving an SPM car at Sebring in early December which helped him speed up his process toward an IndyCar ride. Dragon Racing also offered Vautier a ride in 2013 but the 23-year old rookie decided to stay with SPM.
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports is owned by Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson. The team also has brought back championship-winning engineer Allen McDonald which is the biggest move among IndyCar personnel during the off-season. Vautier is stepping into the strongest scenario for an IndyCar rookie in recent memory.
Vautier scored four wins, seven podiums and five poles in 12 Indy Lights starts in 2012 en route to winning the series championship. The 2011 Lights champion was Josef Newgarden and he also moved right to IndyCar after his championship. Newgarden struggeled in 2012 with his jump into IndyCar with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing. His best finish was 11th in his debut at St. Petersburg. Vautier is hoping to have better success.
The IndyCar Series has confirmed that Vautier will receive the full $1 million advancement prize due to signing to drive for a team that does not have a Leader Circle contract for the second entry he will pilot.
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