TORONTO, Ontario — When it was announced at the last minute that Sebastian Saavedra would be behind the wheel of the No. 7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports entry for the Honda Indy Toronto, nobody was unsure what to expect this weekend. After all, Saavedra had not driven the current configuration of aero kit, nor competed on the street circuit in two years.
Though with an 11th-place finish, Saavedra will leave Ontario’s capital city with a smile on his face.
“(It was) very positive,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “It was a successful weekend all together with my teammate Hinch (James Hinchcliffe) being on the podium and us just shy of clinching a top-10. But we brought the No. 7 home without any damage, and saw evolution with the car through the weekend so very happy about it.”
Making his 63rd career Verizon IndyCar Series start, he completed 78 laps across the three practice sessions over the weekend, posting the 15th-quickest lap in Saturday morning’s session after being 21st on Friday. He kept his expectations “realistic,” stating before the event that he wanted to complete every lap and continue developing the car further for the team.
Starting from 20th on the grid, he made his way forward throughout the event, escaping a couple of incidents without any damage while his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team chose the right strategy en route to 11th.
The reason for Saavedra subbing for Mikhail Aleshin was never announced by the team, with them stating “no further comment” on the situation.
Aleshin has been in this situation before, with a question of sponsorship funding delaying his contract signing for this season. He also has been involved in a couple of massive wrecks through the year, as well, and missed Road America practice due to VISA issues following the 24 Hours of LeMan. As to whether there’s a connection and how the future will shake out is unclear.
For Saavedra, though, it panned out to be a great opportunity that he took advantage of, proving that he can jump in a car and do a decent job. The Colombian stated post-race the team has yet to notify him about any plans, if there are more events to come.
“It’s up in the air,” he said. “I don’t know what will be happening from a week from now. Everything is happening so quickly that we shall see tomorrow what comes.”
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