Mikhail Aleshin has sadly lost his Schmidt Peterson IndyCar drive, and his oval replacement is confirmed as Sebastian Saavedra. But for the road courses, no one is yet confirmed. But it could be that DTM star Robert Wickens gets that seat.
The question is, how will he perform?
Wickens took part in a seat swap with James Hinchcliffe earlier in the year. The two Canadians are friends, and ‘Hinch’ was able to sample Wickens DTM car whilst Robert drove Hinchcliffe’s #5 SPM IndyCar. Both had a lot of fun, but whilst Wickens didn’t set the world alight, SPM were, nonetheless, impressed with how quickly he got used to the Dallara DW12.
This led to the opportunity for Wickens to stand in for Aleshin when the Russian couldn’t get to Road America in time for Friday practice thanks to Visa issues whilst returning from the Le Mans 24 Hours. Wickens again showed well, and when news came through of Aleshin losing his ride permanently the Canadian put up a very teasing tweet. He certainly has his eye on taking that seat from Saavedra for those two races.
I've never been to Watkins Glen or Sonoma.. But I hear they're really nice… pic.twitter.com/hFKav5BBK7
— Robert Wickens (@robertwickens) August 15, 2017
“To be honest it was just a social media thing to stir the pot a bit! But to be honest I’m very interested in IndyCar. I was interested in Sebring after the seat-swap that Hinch and I did. Then getting teased a little bit at Road America but not being able to do the race has left me eager to see what IndyCar would be like for a full weekend.”
If he does get the drive, you have to think he would do very well in that car. In his DTM career so far, he has amassed five wins, five pole positions and thirteen podiums. Last year saw his best result in the championship with fourth place, with two wins, one pole and five podiums. It made him the best Mercedes driver in the final standings and was probably his breakthrough year in the series. Wickens also won the 2011 Formula Renault 3.5 series with Carlin, so is very apt behind the wheel of a single seater machine. All this bodes well for the Canadian and indicates he would be one to watch at Watkins Glen and Sonoma
It made him the best Mercedes driver in the final standings and was probably his breakthrough year in the series. Wickens also won the 2011 Formula Renault 3.5 series with Carlin, so is very apt behind the wheel of a single seater machine. All this bodes well for the Canadian and indicates he would be one to watch at Watkins Glen and Sonoma raceway if he does indeed secure the seat. It could also be very good for his long term career in Motorsport as well.
Mercedes are of course withdrawing from DTM after 2018 to switch to Formula E. This means its drivers will be looking for gigs elsewhere. Wickens could take this opportunity to land himself a full-time IndyCar drive early, to avoid a mad rush for a race seat at the end of 2018.
If he does not secure a race seat for next season in IndyCar, good performances at ‘The Glen’ and Sonoma would no doubt still have him in the frame for a 2019 seat, but it might be trickier to secure such a seat especially with some fast youngsters waiting in the wins in IndyLights.
Whatever happens in the future, it is without a doubt that Wickens will do a very good job for SPM in the last two road course races of this IndyCar season. And it will be very interesting to see how he gets on compared to ‘Hinch’, who is one of the fastest guys in the current IndyCar field. SPM could very well land a good catch!