Saturday, March 15, 2014

Driver Changes For 2014

Like most Indycar offseasons, drivers come and go, with old faces moving to new places and new faces making entry into the series. Here are all the driver changes (in alphabetical order) from last year's season heading into 2014:

(not listed is Carlos Huertas)

Mikhail Aleshin
2013 season: Tech 1 Racing (Formula Renault 3.5)
2014 season: Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports

Mikhail Aleshin will be the first Russian to race in Indycar history. Aleshin, who replaces Tristan Vautier at Sam Schmidt Motorsports, comes from the European Racing scene. The 26 year old won the 2010 Formula Renault 3.5 Series with Carlin. He comes to America looking for a fresh start. Expect him to be solid on road courses and hasty on the ovals.


Sebastien Bourdais
2013 season: Dragon Racing
2014 season: KVSH Racing

Sebastien Bourdais hasn't had a quality ride since coming back to America after an unsuccessful stint in Formula 1. He started back with Dale Coyne Racing and most recently with Dragon Racing. Now, will we see Bourdais back to his world class form now that he is with KVSH Racing, in the car that won the Indianapolis 500 last season? We shall see.

Sebastien Bourdais - Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix: Day 1
Bourdais is probably elated to ditch Dragon (Photo: Chris Trotman / Getty Imgaes North America)

Ryan Briscoe
2013 season: Chip Ganassi Racing and Panther Racing (both part-time)
2014 season: Chip Ganassi Racing

Ryan Briscoe makes his full-time return to Indycar following one season of part-time endeavors. His patience was rewarded with a three year deal to drive for his former boss Chip Ganassi. Can the Australian capture a win for the win-less fourth Ganassi car? The car was driven by Graham Rahal in 2011-2012 and was not used last year outside of Indianapolis. A great move for the team, a very average move for the series.


Mike Conway
2013 season: Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Dale Coyne Racing (both part-time)
2014 season: Ed Carpenter Racing (part-time)

Maybe the most intriuging move of the offseason was Ed Carpenter deciding to step away from road course races. Ed will, however, continue to race on all the ovals. Mike Conway decided to step away from ovals after 2012, making this pairing a match made in heaven. Conway will take over this car on the road courses, which is great news for Indycar.


Simona de Silvestro
2013 season: KV Racing
2014 season: Sauber Reserve Driver (F1)

Simona de Silvestro has left Indycar to pursue her dream of racing in Formula 1. She led an embattled career in Indycar with HVM Racing and most recently KV Racing. She will be the test/reserve driver for Sauber in F1. Her seat at KVSH will be filled by Sebastian Saavedra.

Simona De Silvestro - Grand Prix of Baltimore: Day 1
Is Simona's career in Indycar over? (Photo: Brian Cleary / Getty Images North America)

Dario Franchitti
2013 season: Chip Ganassi Racing
2014 season: Retired

Dario Franchitti's retirement was the biggest bombshell of the offseason. Dario's wreck in Houston left his career in limbo, and the doctors strongly advised to hang up the HANS device to prevent serious injury if another crash were to occur. Dario leaves the #10 Ganassi seat in the hands of his friend Tony Kanaan. He will remain with Ganassi as a member of the team, which is a relief, because he will still very much be in the Indycar family.


Jack Hawksworth
2013 season: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (Indy Lights)
2014 season: Bryan Herta Autosport

2012 Pro Mazda champion Jack Hawksworth makes the jump from Indy Lights to Indycar with 2011 Indianapolis 500 winning team Bryan Herta Autosport. 'The Hawk' will be looking to make his presence felt in Indycar in his rookie season.


Tony Kanaan
2013 season: KV Racing
2014 season: Chip Ganassi Racing

Current Indianapolis 500 Champion switches team from KV Racing to Chip Ganassi Racing. He fills the seat that was previously filled by Dario Franchitti. And before him, it was Dan Wheldon. Quite the prestigious seat. This may not be the last season for Tony Kanaan, but this could very well be the last seat that the 39 year old occupies.


Juan Pablo Montoya
2013 season: Chip Ganassi Racing (NASCAR)
2014 season: Team Penske

Juan Pablo Montoya returns to Indycar after a 14 year absence from the sport. He left Indycar after the 2000 season and pursued a career in F1. After 2006, he came back to America and raced in NASCAR. Now, he is once again back with Indycar with the third Team Penske car. Will he finally get back to his winning ways that were displayed in the early part of his career?


Carlos Munoz
2013 season: Andretti Autosport (Indy Lights) & Andretti Autosport (Indycar, part-time)
2014 season: Andretti Autosport

Carlos Munoz will be in the big show in 2014. The young Colombian who displayed flashes of brilliance in three Indycar races last year, including a P2 result at Indianapolis, do the same on a regular basis? Munoz lost out on the Firestone Indy Lights championship to Sage Karam in 2013, but owner of Andretti Autosport, Michael Andretti, was keen on locking down the rookie for the season.


Sebastian Saavedra
2013 season: Dragon Racing
2014 season: KVSH Racing

Sebastian Saavedra will attempt his third full-time season in Indycar with a third different Indycar team. His first team was Conquest, his second and most recent was Dragon Racing, and now it is KVSH Racing. I have documented my feelings on this signing, so there's no point in my beating a dead horse.


Oriol Servia
2013 season: Panther Dreyer and Reinbold and Panther Racing (both part-time)
2014 season: Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (part-time)

Oriol Servia continues to get the shaft in Indycar. But hey, I'm just happy to see him have something for 2014. Oriol will drive for Bobby Rahal for four races this season, with the possibility of more races coming together for him.


Tristan Vautier
2013 season: Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports
2014 season: ?

Tristan Vautier is in that unfortunate circumstance of being one-and-done in Indycar. He won the 2011 Pro Mazda Championship and 2012 Firestone Indy Lights Championship. In 2013, he signed with Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports. He struggled, only recording one top-ten. I honestly thought he would at least get a second season to use what he learned last season in 2014. Apparently not.

Tristan Vautier - Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama - Day 2
Hopefully Tristan Vautier's Indycar career isn't a case of one-and-done
(Photo: Nick Laham / Getty Images North America)

EJ Viso
2013 season: Andretti Autosport:
2014 season: ?

EJ Viso leaves Indycar after a one season at Andretti Autosport and and six years in the series. He also raced for HVM Racing and KV Racing. His career had some positive moments, but it was largely overshadowed by on track incidents. The question now becomes if we will ever see Viso back in an Indycar.


Bring on St. Petersburg!

-Matthew Hickey

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