Simon Pagenaud and Tristan Vautier had a qualification day to forget for the São Paulo Indy 300 with multiple on-track incidents, but the teammates rebounded on race day to bring their cars home 9th and 16th, respectively.
Pagenaud started from 23rd in the No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports car, and drove as high as third before settling for ninth.
“It was a tough day at the office,” Pagenaud said. “We had a good recovery from qualifying to finish in the top-10, which is hard to do when you start at the back of the field. The team did a fantastic job with strategy to get our car in podium contention.”
Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports also gleaned a wealth of data to use in the future.
“We struggled here in Brazil but we’re working hard and we learned so much today,” Pagenaud said. “We can use all of this information to our advantage in the future.”
Rookie Tristan Vautier, driving the No. 55 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Dallara/Honda/Firestone car, started 21st in the São Paulo Indy 300 field. Vautier drove his car to the top-10 before his luck changed.
“Our pace was ok today and we had a great strategy to move through the field,” Vautier said. “The first part of the race was great because we were picking off positions one by one.”
The race was slowed by seven caution flags however, and the final caution stuck the dagger in the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team’s strategy for the No. 55 car.
“The last caution threw off our strategy and we lost a ton of positions,” Vautier said. “To top if all off we ran out of fuel on the big straightaway of the final lap and lost two more spots.”
Pagenaud and Vautier won’t have long to dwell on their finishes in São Paulo as the gates open at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Indianapolis 500 practice in only six days.
“We’ve been struggling on the street circuits, but we have a strong oval package that we’ve been working on all winter,” Pagenaud said. “It will be nice to be back home for sure and see what we can do at the biggest race of our year.”
James Hinchcliffe, driving for Andretti Autosport, won his second-career IZOD IndyCar Series race at the São Paulo Indy 300. He was followed to the checkered flag by Takuma Sato of A.J. Foyt Racing and Marco Andretti of Andretti Autosport.
Pagenaud and Vautier will return to action with Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports on May 11 for Opening Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. For the latest team updates, follow @SPMIndyCar on Twitter.