While many people have questioned the stability of the IZOD IndyCar Series, one thing not in question is the future talent of the sport.
Two of the best young stars the series has to offer are James Hinchcliffe and JR Hildebrand, who are both entering their third season. Add to that last year’s “rookies” Simon Pagenaud and Josef Newgarden, and you have a nice young core group.
Now we have a chance to add two more special drivers to that mix. Conor Daly and Tristan Vautier are two names that you’ll hear a lot in the future, but if you’re reading this you probably already know of them. Daly tested for AJ Foyt and Vautier for Schmidt/Hamilton Motorsports at Sebring earlier this month. Vautier was second quick of 15 cars, just behind Will Power.
Take into consideration that these two have never been in a DW12 IndyCar before. Still, they were turning laps about two-tenths of a second slower than Will Power and Scott Dixon.
Both drivers have a legitimate chance of landing a ride for the 2013 season. AJ Foyt is wanting to run a second car (the first seat will belong to Takuma Sato). SSM also would like to run a second car (open seat after Barrichello deal fell through) alongside Pagenaud. If a full-time deal doesn’t come to fruition, both drivers could still drive at Indianapolis in May, but it will be tricky for Daly.
Conor said a sponsorship package for Formula Renault 3.5 is nearly finished. He will return to GP3 for 2013, but keep his IndyCar options open for 2014. He said “If there’s a seat in IndyCar for 2014, that would be really cool. Or, if things go really well in Europe next season and an F-1 team wants to help me, that would be good, too. Larry Foyt said they’d rather focus on 2014 rather than force something for next year.”
Experienced drivers are nice, but was all of that thrown out the window with the new chassis introduced last year? Both Daly and Vautier already have more experience driving these cars than most veteran IndyCar drivers currently without a ride.
There are still plenty of veteran drivers like Dixon, Franchitti, Castroneves, Kanaan, and Bourdais. For every one of those, there is an up-and-coming driver that looks to one day fill their shoes. In terms of on-track talent, the series is definitely in good hands.