BREAKING: Aleshin Out for 2017

The relationship between Mikhail Aleshin and his team Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has come to an end. After several years together, the two have mutual agreed to end their relationship with four races remaining in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Season.

Coming to America in 2014, Aleshin drove full-time for SPM and impressed with his aggressive and bold driving style. Due to budgetary issues, Aleshin only raced one race in 2015. He returned full-time in 2016, and again in 2017. Despite the rumored budget issues this season, Aleshin pressed on. However, poor results mixed with abundant crash damage has threatened his ride. He was replaced for Toronto by Sebastian Saavedra, but he did return for the last race at Mid-Ohio.

Mikhail Aleshin testing at Sebring (Photo: IndyCar Media)

Here's the statement from Schmidt Peterson Motorsports:

Mikhail Aleshing, the Russian SMP Racing program driver, will not be returning to the No. 7 Honda for the remainder of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season. Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and SMP Racing have mutually agreed that the Russian driver will focus on the design and development of the new BR1 LMP1 car.
Aleshin is the key SMP Racing driver working on the new LMP1 prototype BR1 which shall be ready for its first test session in the near future. Designed by Russian company BR Engineering, in cooperation with Dallara, the BR1 of SMP Racing team will debut in FIA World Endurance Championship in 2018.
No interviews or further comments will be given by Schmidt Peterson Motorsports at this time.

No drivers have been listed as a replacement for the final races, though Sebastian Saavedra and Robert Wickens have both been involved with the team this season. Marotti Racing, who has been an associate team / sponsor for the team since 2016, has agreed to come onboard with the team for Pocono, Watkins Glen, and Sonoma.

My Opinion

This sucks, but it isn't surprising. I loved watching Mikhail Aleshin in 2014 and on the ovals in general, but under the aero kit era, he never did a whole lot, especially on the road courses. If his seat gets filled by Saavedra for the remainder of the season, I will be pretty salty. In a perfect world, Sage Karam would take the seat, though I don't think Lexus will let him. Anyone but Saavedra.

Thanks for reading!

-Matthew Hickey