After continuing on a blistering pace of shredding Dallara parts, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver Mikhail Aleshin has been replaced by Sebastian Saavedra for the event this weekend in Toronto. And according to SPM General Manager Piers Phillips, the replacement is just for this weekend.
“Sam Schmidt and I reviewed the first half of the season and it would not come as a shock to anybody the run of form Mikhail has been in,” Phillips told Autoweek. “Obviously, with another mistake last week at Iowa and the subsequent result in damage and work that went on this week we both made the decision to let Mikhail reset this weekend, take a sabbatical to refocus himself and come back to Mid-Ohio in a different position.
Phillips stressed it’s just ‘for this weekend’ and that Aleshin remains ‘a very important part of what we are doing.’
“It’s a proactive decision to try to improve Mikhail and get some better results moving forward.”
(More from Autoweek)
Typicall when a driver is replaced midseason it’s because of an injury or a loss of sponsorship. Aleshin appears healthy, so the logical conclusion would have been that he ran out of rubles to pay for crash damage. But that appears to not necessarily the case, which makes this move, uh, unusual.
Maybe your humble host just doesn’t understand racing, but it’s difficult to imagine how Aleshin (or any other driver) is going to get any better at driving by not driving. And yes, this season he has gone backwards, several times literally into a wall. *rimshot* But Toronto is a place where he has actually finished, in 6th place last year. So if SPM were looking for a confidence boost “breather” or whatever, maybe that should have been done at Iowa instead.
Meanwhile Saavedra gets a chance to show what he’s got, and working with hometown favorite James Hinchcliffe as his teammate. Hinch got a podium here last year, so there are definitely more difficult substitution jobs in this series.
Final Lap: In case this racing thing is actually done, Aleshin can always fall back on his musical abilities.