By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
The young and polarizing 20-year-old Santino Ferrucci will have a permanent home in the IndyCar Series next season with with full-time drive at Dale Coyne Racing.
Ferrucci will drive the No. 19 Cly-Del Honda, replacing Pietro Fittipaldi, who recently signed a deal to become a Formula One test driver for the Haas F1 Team.
This announcement was made by the Wasserman Media Group Tuesday, who have also signed the former F2 racer to a driver representation agreement. Brad Lusky, the executive VP of the Wasserman Group, said he has liked what Ferrucci has done behind the wheel after making four starts for Coyne last season.
“I like what I see in Santino, both as a young driving talent and as a marketable brand,” said Lusky. “The Wasserman team has a lot of experience in motorsport and I’m excited to see what Santino can do as a young gun in the IndyCar Series next season.”
In four starts, the ex-Haas F1 test driver has shown prominent pace, especially in the third DCR car during the final two races at Portland and Sonoma, and while his results were 20th and 11th respectively, he has cracked the top-10 on multiple occasions in those races.
Ferrucci said he’s been grateful to Coyne for giving him an opportunity of competing in his first full season in IndyCar, and running four races this past season has gained him valuable experience.
“I’ve said it before, I’m extremely grateful to Dale and everyone at Dale Coyne Racing for believing in me and for giving me this opportunity to race a full season in the IndyCar Series,” said Ferrucci.
“I enjoyed the time I spent with the team this past year in the IndyCar Series and I’m looking forward to doing a full season with them. While I’ll still be considered a rookie, I feel like I’ve already gained valuable experience in IndyCar that will serve me well next season. However, I’m well aware that I still have a lot to learn and I’m looking forward to it.”
The Woodbury, Connecticut native is eager to start the new season, and anticipates a great partnership with Wasserman.
“I am honored to be chosen to be a part of the Wasserman team and I’m really looking forward to this branding and marketing partnership,” said Ferrucci. “As a young driver it’s important to have a trusted group of people all pulling in the same direction and to have the Wasserman Group helping me with sponsors and working to market my brand is a good feeling.
“The 2019 season can’t get here fast enough.”
His biggest challenge that lies ahead is conquering the ovals for the first time, but after testing at Texas Motor Speedway, it gave him confidence heading into the 102nd Indianapolis 500 May 26, the series first oval race of the season.
“Testing in Texas as a rookie was very fun, Sebastien (Bourdais) gave me a lot of insight of things to look for and to train for,” said Ferrucci. “There’s a lot to learn about racing on an oval and I very much look forward to my first oval event being the Indy 500.”
Infamously known for getting banned from F2 after an post-race incident with his former Trident teammate Arjuin Maini at Silverstone, Ferrucci has been incident and controversy-free since, which motorsports manager of Wasserman Mickey Ryan feels that his personality can translate to excitement and hopes that his growth will lead him to become a future champion.
“Santino is a hard-working driver and he returns to America with boundless experience in a racecar and with a real technical engineering mindset, which will only help accelerate his learning curve in an IndyCar,” said Ryan.
“In my opinion, Santino is exactly the kind of talent and personality that the IndyCar Series needs right now and I’m excited to watch him grow into the next great American champion.”
Conye said he was happy with his performances, and proven that he’s shown maturity in the races he’s competed in.
“We were very happy with Santino’s performances this season in the races he did with us,” said Coyne. “He showed a lot of maturity and the desire to learn and to keep improving. Had it not been for some unfortunate luck at Portland and again at Sonoma, he could have picked up even better results than what he did. We’re very excited to have him back full-time in 2019 and seeing how he continues to grow and perform throughout the season.”
Ferrucci’s confirmation at Coyne just further extends the competitive playing field in the 2019 rookie class, as he’ll join Marcus Ericsson, Colton Herta, Patricio O’Ward, and Felix Rosenqvuist in that battle.