The effect of Brendon Hartley entering Formula 1 was two-fold.
Firstly, it has seen Daniil Kvyat replaced at Toro Rosso with Hartley highly likely to join Pierre Gasly as a full time driver in that car next year. Second, it has allowed 2017 IndyCar rookie of the year Ed Jones to make the switch from Dale Coyne Racing to Chip Ganassi racing, and potentially hit the big time.
It should be said though that this is not to discredit the Coyne team, who improved massively last season. Had it not been for Sebastien Bourdais’s unfortunate accident at the Indy 500 qualifying, that team could have won the 500 and Bourdais could well have been right in the mix for the championship – in fact, he was up until his accident.
Jones fought for victory in the race itself and finished a remarkable third. Had it not been for nose damage, he could have won. But Ganassi is perhaps the better place, at least for now, for Jones to showcase his unquestionable talents in a championship fight in a move that caught many off guard.
— Chip Ganassi Racing (@CGRTeams) October 26, 2017
“This is truly an honor to have the opportunity to drive for Chip, his organization and to represent NTT DATA.
Chip runs one of the biggest and best motor racing teams in the world, and equally as important, is a proven winner across each series he competes in from Le Mans to Indianapolis and beyond.
I want to get up to speed quickly and learn as much as I can. Scott is a legend in the sport, and to get the chance to team with him is an amazing opportunity.” – Ed Jones
Hartley had been a shoe in for that seat and it was only a matter of time before the Kiwi superteam of Hartley and Scott Dixon was announced. But an impressive debut in the US Grand Prix and Red Bull very keen to sign him up at Toro Rosso full time lead to the New Zealander exiting his Ganassi contract, and it allowed the team to snatch Jones from under Coyne’s very nose.
Jones is now teammates to one of the all time greats, Scott Dixon. In the years he had Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball and Max Chilton as his teammates, Dixon wiped the floor with them and has won two titles since the introduction of the DW12 back in 2012.
Jones is very much entering Dixon’s domain and it will be very interesting to see how he gets on in the first few races of the year.
“Ed was on our list at the very beginning, our search committee list.
We were not only impressed this year with what he did in an Indy car and how he conducted himself, but also in studying his background, and where he came from before he drove Indy cars.
We know that he won in Formula 3 multiple times under pressure, in the European series and the British series.” – CGR Managing Director Mike Hull
— IndyCar Series (@IndyCar) September 14, 2017
What Jones could achieve next year is bound to be one of the biggest talking points of the winter and of the first few races. His rookie season was nothing short of sensational, and he earned plaudits from up and down the grid especially after his Indy 500 top three finish.
It is very refreshing to see a young guy get such a big break as well, particularly when the likes of Carlos Munoz and Conor Daly have been elbowed out at A.J Foyt racing by a guy who has not won in three years, and an IndyLights driver with an average record.
Brendon Hartley’s shock switch to Formula 1 led to a shock switch in IndyCar as well. And it could be that it leads to one of the biggest Motorsport stories in 2018. If only the season was to start next week, eh?