IndyCar round up – 9 January 2015

In the spotlight this week was Andretti Autosport and the likelihood of expanding their line-up and the drivers that might be in contention for rides.

3, 4 or 5? 

Since James Hinchliffe’s departure and confirmation that the team was going to be Honda’s ‘flagship’ squad for 2015 we have been waiting to see how big the Andretti Autosport squad would be. Spearheading the Japanese giants efforts against the Chevy-powered teams of Penske and Ganassi adds a whole lot of pressure and expectation. In addition there are the implications of Penske upping to four drivers with the signing of Simon Paganeud and Ganassi still tinkering with the idea of four.

Against the twin challenges it is to be expected that Michael Andretti’s eponymous team will run at least four cars. They will certainly be looking, at first, to bolster their efforts at the sharp end, instead of blooding rookies. Hunter-Reay needs a more consistent challenger/wingman and neither Marco nor Munoz look like offering that right now. Despite positive noises from Michael, the jury is still out on whether Marco can deliver across the season. Teeing up the likes of Justin Wilson or Oriol Servia – two drivers who have definite championship potential but have never had the car to prove it – would make sense for the mooted fourth seat. Those rumours have however subsequently been blown away by the mention two former F1 drivers.

Verge or Magnussen – take your pick

Following a spectacular Formula E debut for Andretti, former Toro Rosso driver Jean-Eric Vergne was, by association it seems, suggested for an IndyCar ride. More headline-grabbing however was the suggestion McLaren-Honda test driver Kevin Magnussen might dovetail his F1 duties with selected IndyCar races.

Having either driver race seriously in IndyCar would be tremendously exciting for the series and promotional efforts. It would keep Magnussen ‘race sharp’ but would it offer much beyond that? With extensive simulator work for McLaren likely could he commit to it properly and would they want to risk him on ovals anyway?

Magnussen has a realistic chance to get back in at McLaren – Button is there to smooth the Honda transition and get the team competitive only. In the interim would distractions in the US be worthwhile for the Danie but conversely, how many F1 testers have disappeared by simply sitting tight in that role, waiting for an opportunity that never came?

Racing in the US would be beneficial for IndyCar if either driver was competitive without blowing the doors off everyone else. In the case of Magnussen, it could be very helpful if he were to return to F1 with positive admiration and respect for the series after a tough but beneficial run.

I’d like to see Wilson or Servia get a chance at Andretti over Vergne. Magnussen feels like a wild rumour designed to help IndyCar get some media traction as we plough through this interminable off-season. For IndyCar it would be a great coup if Vergne or Magnussen were to race, but with the exception possibly of Vergne it would not be a long-term move to the US.

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