Simon Pagenaud had a remarkable 2017 IndyCar season, dominating the championship to secure his first tile at the end of the year. This year he aims to repeat that, as well as take the Indy 500 crown…
Pagenaud recently spoke to Mobil 1 the Grid about the upcoming Indy 500 and his wider ambitions this season:
Pagenaud had a varied career up to IndyCar. Racing in F3 and the American Le Mans Series, he ventured onto the grid in 2012 and won the rookie of the year driving for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in his second season in 2012. He finished fifth in that championship despite not winning a race. As a child, his aim was to be a Formula 1 or IndyCar driver and that was inspired by his hero, legendary Brazilian Ayrton Senna. Senna inspired him and gave him this unexplainable ambition: ” I want to be a racing driver”.
“The reason I got interested in racing was because of Ayrton Senna. And as a kid, Senna carried a very mythical ethic. He was such a legendary person as a living person that he woke up something inside of me that I couldn’t explain back then. I didn’t know what was going on, I just felt something inside that I wanted to be a professional racer”.
Pagenaud had a great 2012 season but it was 2014 where he was in title contention up to the final race that really caught everyone’s eye. He took two victories and three poles on his way to 5th in the championship, and it caught the eye of Roger Penske who was looking to expand his team beyond Helio Castroneves, Juan-Pablo Montoya and Will Power. He signed up Pagenaud for the 2015 season to give Penske a brilliant four car team. A difficult year followed though with no wins, but in 2016 he took 5 wins and 7 poles and lead the championship virtually all the way until the end to secure his first IndyCar title. Despite taking the title, Pagenaud wants more. Currently leading this year’s championship fight, he wants to achieve another dream and win the Indianapolis 500. Remarkably, he has yet to win the race despite coming oh so close back in 2015.
“The championship is my strength because of my consistency and focus. But the indy 500 is my dream, I wanna become one the legends that wins the Indy 500 and I want to leave a stamp on my career. I’m going to push as hard as I can and give myself every chance in the world, but let’s see what happens.”
Pagenaud has made a fantastic start to the 2017 season. He took 2nd place at the first race in St. Petersburg and took his first win of the year at Phoenix, which was also his first win on an oval circuit. His consistency as he says, is once again paying off and he is currently top of the standings. But unlike last year, the competition appears to be much stiffer with the likes of Scott Dixon, Josef Newgarden and Will Power breathing down his necks for that IndyCar title. Pagenaud is one of the series great drivers. Now he is ready to take the next step, and become a legend.