INDIANAPOLIS (December 10, 2012) - 2012 Firestone Indy Lights Champion Tristan Vautier garnered six awards last week with his team Sam Schmidt Motorsports (SSM) at the IndyCar Championship Celebration, but the 23-year-old Frenchman had very little time to rest on his laurels.
Just one week after the Championship Celebration, Vautier will join SSM at Sebring International Raceway for his first outing in an IZOD IndyCar.
SSM will conduct a two-day test with their regular IndyCar driver Simon Pagenaud driving the No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Dallara/Honda/Firestone car on Dec. 12. Vautier will step into the car Dec. 13 while Pagenaud remains behind to help him learn the nuances of the bigger car.
Vautier is looking forward to his first chance to experience the IndyCar Dallara chassis, but has set realistic goals for himself heading into the test.
“It’s going to be totally new for me, so I can’t set any goals regarding where I want to end-up performance wise,” Vautier said. “I will go to Sebring without putting any pressure on myself but instead focus on what the IndyCar guys at SSM have to teach me and how I can learn efficiently. My goal is to improve all-day long and learn as much as I can. “
While he has set cautious goals for himself, Vautier has proven to be a quick study throughout his career. In 2012, his rookie year in Firestone Indy Lights, he won his first race and went on to win the championship. In 2011, his rookie year in the Star Mazda Series, he also won his first race on his way to capturing the championship.
“I know there will be a learning process in taking this step as there always is when you move to a different car,” Vautier said. “I’m just happy and honored to be taking this step with SSM after they brought me the Lights title this year.”
Team owner Sam Schmidt is glad that his team’s 2012 Firestone Indy Lights Champion will get a shot in the IZOD IndyCar Series car.
“Tristan had such a great year with us in Firestone Indy Lights, and he truly deserves this chance to test in an IndyCar,” Schmidt said. “The Mazda Road to Indy ladder system is about welcoming and supporting new talent as they grow in their careers, and we have all collectively come together with support from our partners Honda and Firestone, to make this test a reality for Tristan.”