INDIANAPOLIS — Schmidt Peterson Motorsports announced Wednesday morning that popular Verizon IndyCar Series star and former Indianapolis 500 polesitter James Hinchcliffe will return to the team after signing a multi-year extension.
Hinchcliffe will be paired with long-time friend and fellow countryman Robert Wickens, who tested Hinchcliffe’s Honda Indy car in a ride swap this year and also practiced the No. 7 Honda at Road America in June, when former SPM driver Mikhail Aleshin ran into visa problems.
Wickens becomes the full-time driver of the No. 7, while Hinchcliffe retains his No. 5 for the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season.
The duo marks the first all-Canadian lineup in North American open-wheel racing since 2004, when Paul Tracy and Patrick Carpentier drove for Forsythe Racing.
“Not only am I really excited to be able to say I’ll be back with SPM for next year and beyond, but I am also really looking forward to being teammates with one of my oldest friends,” said Hinchcliffe. “Robbie and I grew up racing against one another, eventually took different paths, me staying in North America in open-wheel cars and him going off to Europe in sports cars, but it’s pretty neat that we both ended up here and we get to live our dream of being professional racing drivers, together on the same team.
“I think 2018 is going to be a great year for the SPM organization, from having Robbie here to the team’s new partnership with Honda and the 2018 aero kit; I just can’t wait to get back on track and bring some good results home for the Arrow Electronics crew.”
Hinchcliffe, 30, has captured five wins, 14 podium finishes and one pole position (Indianapolis 500, 2016) in his six full seasons of IndyCar competition.
With two Formula Championships under his belt (Formula BMW USA, 2006; Formula Renault 3.5, 2011) as well as a season as a Formula One test driver (Marussia Virgin Racing), Wickens will make his return to open-wheel racing following six seasons of competing in Europe for Mercedes Benz in the German DTM championship.
During his time in sports cars, the 28-year-old earned six wins, five pole positions and 15 podium finishes.
“This is an entirely new chapter to add to my racing career, and I am really excited for this opportunity that Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has given me,” Wickens noted. “I think everyone knows the story by now that James and I grew up racing against one another in go karts, and to make it to the largest open-wheel racing series in North America together as teammates, it’s crazy to think about. I am very thankful for the six years I had with everyone at Mercedes and DTM; those are memories I will cherish forever. I can’t wait to truly see what the Verizon IndyCar Series is all about!”
“We’re all very pleased to have Robert on board, and not just because he’s another Canadian,” added SPM co-owner and fellow Canadian Ric Peterson. “He’s obviously someone who has been on our radar for some time now, and we’re excited about this new chapter in the SPM organization.”
“We’ve been building a lot of momentum within the team and hope this latest addition will be a great next step as we move forward. I’m also really proud that we’ll be able to represent Team Canada and be able to showcase two great Canadian athletes.”
CREDIT: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports