After a year filled with speculation, Mikhail Aleshin and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports announced on Saturday that the pair were parting ways immediately.
“Mikhail Aleshin, the Russian SMP Racing program driver, will not be returning to the No. 7 Honda for the remainder of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season,” Schmidt Peterson Motorsports released in a statement. “Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and SMP Racing have mutually agreed that the Russian driver will focus on the design and development of the new BR1 LMP1 car.
“Aleshin is the key SMP Racing driver working on the new LMP1 prototype BR1 which shall be ready for its first test session in the near future. Designed by Russian company BR Engineering, in cooperation with Dallara, the BR1 of SMP Racing team will debut in FIA World Endurance Championship in 2018.”
Aleshin was ranked in 16th in the points with three top-10’s, despite the missing the Honda Indy Toronto, with a best finish of sixth in the first race of the Chevrolet Detroit Grnad Prix presented by Lear doubleheader weekend.
Notably, there has always been questions surrounding Aleshin’s status, beginning with his return to SPM coming late in the 2017 pre-season due to uncertainty surrounding funding. He then missed practice at Road America due to visa issues following the 24 Hours of LeMans, and missed Toronto for an unannounced reason.
A replacement driver for the remainder of the season has yet to be named. Speculation points towards Robert Wickens, who filled in for Aleshin at Road America when the Russian missed practice. Other possible drivers include Zach Veach and Santiago Urrutia.
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