After completing his best season to date, Simon Pagenaud is riding high on confidence heading into the 2014 season with Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports.
“I think 2014 is about to be an incredible year. I’m very excited about it,” the France driver said. “I know everybody’s working really hard, every team, every driver, so the level is going to be even higher than it is last year. As a driver you know that during the winter. It’s about finding what you can improve of yourself to come back and be stronger, what to do to basically be faster is the key.”
Last season, Pagenaud had his best season to date as he finished third in points after winning a pair of his races, including scoring his first ever career win at Belle Isle. Now to take the next step and become championship material, Pagenaud says it’s all about getting more experience.
“From my standpoint, you need to look at who I was fighting against last year, for example, how many years I was here. That was only my second year. Then oval racing, which I’m still learning about,” he commented. “Obviously I’d be happy to win 10 races a year, but nobody has done it so far in the last two years. I think the level of competition is so high, there’s so many factors that come in during a race, it’s not comparable to Formula One, it’s a different kind of racing.
“There are so much strategy going on, there are so much restarts, so many things that come into play. It’s what’s interesting about IndyCar.”
Pagenaud added that he could also be more focused in situations and get stronger as a driver by understanding his reactions to certain situations and improving. Beyond that, Pagenaud feels that the improvements within the team over hte off-season will help contribute to the success. Those improvement start in the engine department as Honda will be debuting a new twin turbo engine this year, which translate to more power.
Pagenaud says in developing the motor, he has loved being part of the process as he loves the technical aspects of racing.
“So being involved in engine development is something I’m really into. It gets me a thrill about the sport,” he commented.
Pagenaud added with the change, the key now will be setting the car up to maximize the amount of power.
“It ‘s been interesting to be able to develop the engine with Honda. I’m very glad to be part of it. Very proud actually. I think we’re about ready for the start of the season,” Pagenaud commented. “The last two tests have been good in Sonoma and Sebring. We’ve been more competitive than we’ve never been in Sonoma, so I think that’s a good point. We just need to tick some boxes before the season starts.
“I feel a lot more confident, a lot more one with my car than I was last year.”
Pagenaud has raced a bunch of different cars over the course of his career to date, but says IndyCar is where he sees himself staying the rest of his career.
“I love the series. I love the competition. I love the venues. I love the Indy 500,” he said. “I want to excel at it. I want to be better and win races and win championships.”