Mikhail Aleshin will become the IndyCar Series’ first Russian driver in 2014 after signing a deal with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. The 2010 Formula Renault 3.5 champion and former Red Bull junior joins IndyCar race winner Simon Pagenaud in Sam Schmidt’s squad.
Aleshin tested Schmidt’s Dallara-Honda for the first time at Sebring last weekend (BELOW).
“I’ve been racing in Europe for a long time and have had success there and driven more or less everything I could,” said the 26-year-old. “But I decided to change because I just wanted a new competition with new tracks and a new car.
“I knew the competition is quite strong and it would be hard for me, especially because I’ve never raced any American circuits. It’s a big thing to do, but I think I’ll be competitive. Ovals will be hard, but I’m here to learn and compete for good results.”
Schmidt said he had been impressed with Aleshin so far.
“He is extremely mature and talented, but like so many up-and-coming drivers in the European system there just weren’t enough opportunities for him to advance to F1,” said the team boss. “We have already found his driving style to be very similar to Simon’s and believe he can contribute immediately to the program, even as a rookie.”
2012 Indy Lights champion Tristan Vautier drove Schmidt’s second car during the 2013 season.
Aleshin has primarily raced in FR3.5 since 2006, interspersed with partial GP2 campaigns, some sports car racing and finishing third in the first year of the revived Formula 2 series in 2009.
Although he is the first Russian driver in the modern IndyCar Series, turns out he is not in fact the first Russian to take part in the National Championship that stretches back to the sport’s roots. Vladimir Serguéiévitch Rachevsky, born in Dvinsk, Russia (now Daugavpils, Latvia), made one start in a 200-lap, 300-mile board track race in Atlantic City in 1926, driving a Bugatti. The car lasted 11 laps before retiring with engine trouble. Rachevsky was brother-in-law to Grand Duke Boris of Russia (probably how he got his title) and was named head of the Ambassador hotel in New York in 1930.