Newman/Haas Racing has confirmed that it will field a single entry in this weekend's season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg for Oriol Servia, despite having tested several times during the winter – including at last week's Open Test at Barber Motorsports Park – with Indy Lights graduate James Hinchcliffe as well.
Servia, who set the fifth-fastest overall time of the Barber test in which Hinchcliffe also showed impressive speed, said: “I honestly believe the test couldn't have gone better. I found the whole Newman/Haas team exactly how I left it: willing to do whatever it takes to let the driver do what he does best and get to the front. With one difference, though, and that is that the whole team is hungrier than ever and everybody is working like it was their first race, only with 28 years of experience. I expect us to be competitive from the get go in St. Pete. No excuses of being rusty after a year off or anything. I feel ready and the team has a great track record in St. Pete and all street races in general. I expect us to shine.”
Hinchcliffe, who still hopes to race for the team later this season, will be on hand at St. Petersburg in the Newman/Haas pits, just not as a driver.
As the lead rookie and top Canadian throughout the test, last year's Firestone Indy Lights runner-up knows he's capable of taking on the best in IndyCar, he's just going to have to wait a little longer before making his race debut.
“It's frustrating to have to watch the first race of the season from the sidelines, especially after the open test where we performed pretty well against the whole field,” admitted the Canadian. “That said, I can only look at the positives from all we've done over the past few months. I've demonstrated what I can do behind the wheel and, trust me, there are a bunch of people working flat-out to find the appropriate partners for me to make the most of the platform on offer.
“I have to say though, I want to be here long-term, so we're looking to find partners that can offer multi-year support in order to reap the benefits of a commercial program with me competing in the IndyCar Series. While it would be great to get some race starts under my belt, there's little point in a stop-start campaign. I don't necessarily want to be back to square one at the end of each season, so if that means taking the time now to find the right partners, then that's the deal we'll work on!
“I'd like to thank Newman/Haas Racing for inviting me to continue to be part of the team on IndyCar weekends. Yes, I want to be driving, but I'm still going to make the most of every opportunity, in or out of the car, to do all I can to achieve my goal. I know I have a lot to offer and I'm happy to work with the team in St. Petersburg and keep myself dialed in to what's going on. They're as keen as I am to make something happen – we have a common goal!”