Schmidt Peterson Motorsport has completed its long-planned expansion to two cars by signing Frenchman Tristan Vautier alongside compatriot Simon Pagenaud for the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series.
Vautier won last year's Firestone Indy Lights title with the Schmidt team, and several crew members from his Lights campaign will be promoted along with him to work on his car.
Team co-owner Sam Schmidt said that he believes the addition of a second car will help the team to build on its momentum from last season, when it helped Pagenaud to earn Rookie of the Year honors and finish fifth in the standings.
"We achieved success with Simon Pagenaud last season as a properly run single-car team, but I believe we'll be even better with two cars given the chemistry of the package and personnel we have put together for this program," Schmidt said. "You really need to run two cars to reap the benefits of two sets of data and vie for the championship at this level."
Vautier made his first appearance in an IndyCar when he tested with the team at Sebring last December, finishing the day with the second-quickest time overall.
"On my side of things, I don't want to arrive and call myself a title contender or anything like that," said Vautier. "I don't want to arrive and set myself any precise goals. I think I have a lot to learn. I have an amazing teammate in Simon. I hope I can learn as much as I can from him and then get up to speed and hopefully both of us can work together and bring the team higher.
"It's all about learning and trying to get up to speed as quickly as I can. I will really focus more on what I have to do to learn and go faster."
2013 IndyCar Series lineup so far:
Team Engine Drivers
A.J. Foyt Racing Honda Takuma Sato
Andretti Autosport Chevy Ryan Hunter-Reay/James Hinchcliffe/Marco Andretti/tba
Bryan Herta Autosport Honda Alex Tagliani
Chip Ganassi Racing Honda Dario Franchitti/Scott Dixon/Charlie Kimball
Dale Coyne Racing Honda tba
Dragon Racing Chevy Sebastien Bourdais/tba
Ed Carpenter Racing Chevy Ed Carpenter
KV Racing Technology Chevy Tony Kanaan/Simona de Silvestro
Panther/Dreyer & Reinbold Chevy JR Hildebrand/Oriol Servia
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda Graham Rahal/Mike Conway (Long Beach only)
Sarah Fisher Hartman Honda Josef Newgarden
Schmidt Peterson Honda Simon Pagenaud/Tristan Vautier
Team Penske Chevy Will Power/Helio Castroneves