An insight of the IndyCar World Series Championship
e-Toile: Tristan Vautier, as a young race car driver, how were you selected to participate in the American racing series—the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg IndyCar—which just took place this last April?
Tristan Vautier: I arrived in the United States in 2010 with the hope of pursuing a career in motor sports racing that had started in Europe.
I raced in the Pro Mazda Championship—the third division of the IndyCar World Series Championship (IndyCar represents the American F1).
I won the Pro Mazda Championship in 2011, after which I was offered an award for continuing on to the 2012 Firestone Indy Lights—the second division of the IndyCar World Series.
In 2012, I won the Indy Lights championship and the award of $1 million offered to the series champion.
The title of champion and the award money helped me secure a full time spot in the Indy Car premier series.
St. Petersburg was the first test match of our championship that includes 19 separate races.
e-Toile: What are the distinguishing features of this race, in particular?
Tristan Vautier: The racing circuit was partly held in the Albert Whitted Airport and the downtown area of St. Petersburg. The cars raced in the heart of the city and this made the event extremely popular.
The number of spectators and sponsors grows each year.
For a racecar driver, it’s very welcoming to be able to race between walls lined by spectators, which are always enthusiastic, and the terraces of high streets filled with supporters.
The St. Petersburg series has something special—it’s the Monaco of Florida.
e-Toile: You raced alongside two other French drivers during this test match, as Sébastien Bourdais and Simon Pagenaud also participated in the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Does the fact that you compete alongside your fellow citizens tend to facilitate your training for the racing series and test matches?
Tristan Vautier: In my case, yes it does, due to the fact that Simon Pagenaud and myself are on the same team and have the opportunity to share a lot of information.
This helps the team to advance ahead and for a novice race-car driver as myself, to have a teammate that is as fast and experienced as Simon, especially one who also speaks the same language, is certainly an advantage.
But once you’re on the racetrack, nationality is no longer taken into consideration, and we give our maximum effort to defeat all of the racecar drivers—whatever their nationality!
e-Toile: At this moment, you live in St. Petersburg—is it a personal choice or a professional choice to be settled on the western coast of Florida?
Tristan Vautier: At the start, it was a professional choice, seeing that the team for which I raced in 2010, Andersen Racing, was based close to St. Petersburg (in Palmetto).
My current team is based in Indianapolis, but I fell in love with Florida and of course prefer to stay here!
I live in Indianapolis in May, June, and July, because professionally I should be with the team during this extremely active racing period (particularly because of the Indy 500), but I am always anxious to return to St. Pete!
IndyCar driver - Team Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
Article published May 13, 2013.