NTT IndyCar Series entrants, Arrow Schmidt Peterson, has confirmed that they will be evaluating former Formula 1 driver and reigning IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Prototype champion Felipe Nasr in a test next week. The Brazilian will take to the track in an IndyCar for the first time at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Monday, one day after this weekend’s Honda Indy 200 event at the circuit in Lexington, Ohio.
In an interview published yesterday by RACER, Arrow Schmidt Peterson’s general manager, Taylor Kiel, confirmed that Nasr will drive one of their cars an evaluation test on Monday. Kiel stated that the aim of the test was to give the team “a chance to get to know someone new” who could potentially drive for them in the future. He also added that Nasr had been under consideration by the team for a while.
“We’re assessing drivers,” Kiel told RACER. “We want to make sure we have the best mechanics, engineers, and everyone, drivers included, and Felipe’s been on our radar for a while.”
“IndyCar gives us an opportunity to test a driver on an evaluation day, and we used that day with Robert Wickens in the past, with Marcus [Ericsson] last year, and we’ll do it with Felipe this year,” he said. “It gives us more data to work with than we had before, and gives us a chance to get to know someone new who might be suited for these cars in the future.”
Nasr currently competes in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with Action Express Racing in the prototype class and is the reigning champion of the series having won the title alongside Eric Curran. However, Felipe’s IndyCar test on Monday will, of course, not be the first time that he has driven a single seater.
Nasr is perhaps best known for having competed in Formula 1 with Sauber F1 Team from 2015 to 2016. After graduating from the GP2 Series – where he took four wins on-route to finishing in third-place in the standings in 2014 – Nasr made the jump up to race with Sauber alongside Marcus Ericsson. Despite the immediate build-up to his debut race in Melbourne, Australia being overshadowed by legal action against the team by previously contracted driver Giedo van der Garde, Nasr would impress in the race and take an astonishing fifth place; a result that would ultimately be his best finish in Formula 1 and the team’s best finish of the entire season.
Numerous additional top ten finishes would follow for Nasr over the remaining races of 2015, but 2016 would be much more difficult. Sauber looked destined to finish last in the constructors’ championship until Nasr scored a ninth-place finish at the penultimate race of the season to take the team’s only points of the year; thus seeing them beat Manor Racing Team by just one point.
Despite this miraculous effort from Nasr, it was announced post-season that he would not be retained for 2017 and would instead be replaced by Mercedes protégé, Pascal Wehrlein. Following this, Nasr would switch his focus to Endurance racing championships such as IMSA and the European Le Mans Series. He would also briefly make an appearance in Formula E, racing with GEOX Dragon Racing on three occasions during the 2018/19 season.
A potential move to the NTT IndyCar Series in the not too distant future would be a great opportunity for Nasr to showcase himself to the single seater racing world once again. However, Arrow Schmidt Peterson already have James Hinchcliffe locked in to a multi-year contract. Also, the team’s current second driver, Nasr’s former Formula 1 team-mate Ericsson, has recently spoken of his desire to continue with the team in 2020. Ericsson has impressed in his rookie season and has already stood on the podium at Belle Isle and had the potential to do so on other occasions prior to that.
There is a chance that Arrow Schmidt Peterson could look to expand to a full or part-time three-car effort. The team currently field two cars whilst also providing significant technical assistance to the part-time entry of Meyer Shank Racing. However, the team have not yet shown any significant interest in expanding. If Nasr’s test on Monday goes well, Arrow Schmidt Peterson may well consider and expansion, but Felipe could always look to another team if that is not the case.
Nasr will be a guest of Arrow Schmidt Peterson throughout this weekend’s 2019 Honda Indy 200 prior to his test on Monday, July 29. The race itself will take place the previous day on Sunday, July 28. Nasr’s next race in the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will take place on Sunday, August 4 at Road America.