Season Review: Mikhail Aleshin

In a series of blogs that will be featured throughout the offseason, I review and talk about 21 full-time drivers in addition to extended part time drivers (Carpenter and Conway) in an honest and opinionated format. I would ask you to share your opinions on my thoughts as well as your thoughts on the driver and their season. Enjoy:

Mikhail Aleshin
#7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

16th in points scoring 372 points.

Best finish: 2nd (Houston Race #2)
Worst finish: 25th (Grand Prix of Indianapolis)

Wins: 0
Poles: 0
Avg. Start: 14.0
Avg. Finish: 14.2
Change in position: -3

Grade: B

I am still finding it so hard to believe that Mikhail Aleshin had the season that he that he had. It was fantastic! The biggest surprise was how good Mikhail was good on ovals. He took Rookie Orientation for the Indianapolis 500 in stride, with a giant smile on his face. He amazed all of us at Texas and Pocono, finishing brilliantly. He was also really good on road courses. He was so quick at Grand Prix of Indianapolis, before getting a penalty in qualifying, forcing him to start last. We know what happened next. Aleshin plowed into a stalled Sebastian Saavedra. A rough time for Aleshin.

Speaking of rought times, Aleshin had a lot of frightening moments. A big crash at Barber forced the race to end under yellow. As discussed, Aleshin had a big shunt at GPI with Saavedra. He wrecked at Iowa, and was pretty slow to get out of the car but was okay. In Toronto, Aleshin's car got wedged under Juan Pablo Montoya in pretty frightening fashion. We all feared that he had a head or neck injury, when in reality, the heat from the exhaust from Montoya's car is what put Mikhail in danger, as he said in his interview. And then, the nastiest of them all by far was the crash at Fontana during practice that could have been so much worse. He spun the car in the low lane, hit the wall in the top lane, and was then hit by Charlie Kimball, forcing him into the catch fence. It was one of the scariest crashes I've ever seen. Thankfully, Aleshin is "okay."

The worst part about Mikhail's season is that it might have been the only time that we will have seen Mikhail full-time in Indycar. Sanctions by the United States against Russian companies (ie his primary sponsors, SMP Bank) have forced Schmidt Peterson Motorsports to look for other ways to field Mikhail or find a new driver. With Sam Schmidt testing a host of new drivers, it looks like the show will go on without Mikhail. A shame because he was a joy to watch both on and off the track.

Mikhail Aleshin - Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
Photo: Robert Laberge / Getty Images North America

2014 grades so far:

Stay tuned for P15 Justin Wilson!

-Matthew Hickey