I think a lot of fans have written off Sebastian Saavedra as an over-rated ride buyer, but I think he’s more like a young pitcher, brought up too early.
The announcement that Saavedra would be joining Sebastien Bourdais at Dragon Racing was met with an overwhelming “Meh” from the fans I saw on forums and twitter, but I’m pretty excited to see this. First off it’s great to see Dragon get to two full time entries, and I’m a fan of comebacks and dark horses.
Saavedra biggest claim to fame so far was making the 2010 Indy 500 as a teenager when Paul Tracy pulled a qualified car out of the field because they were afraid of being bumped and ended up putting Saavedra in the race. I’m not certain, but I want to say he’s the first teenager since Graham Rahal to race in the Indy 500.
He also didn’t win any fans by walking out on Bryan Herta before the Indy Lights race at Kentucky in 2010. Still, there was probably way more to that then what got made public.
Now it sucks for Katherine Legge, who might end up missing 2013. I like Kat, she’s a class act and I think she’s a better driver than her results indicate. I hope she gets to race somewhere, but the only open seats are at Dale Coyne, where she raced in 2007 and didn’t do well. While it sucks for Legge at some point Indycar has to start building up its own history with its new young drivers. For too many years now many of the drivers knocking on the door of the series have been one-done-and-never-heard-from-again. Saavedra is young, talented, dedicated, and deserving of a second shot.
He’s 22, he’s talented and he’s not been in good equipment on the highest level before. Saavedra raced for Conquest Racing in 2011, where he probably bought the ride, and was largely forgettable He didn’t qualify for Indy and his best finish was an 11th atSao Paulo. The reason I think he’s deserving of another shot is what I saw him do at Barber Motorsport last year.
In 2012 Saavedra dropped down to Firestone Indy Lights with AFS Racing and at Barber he led flag to flag after winning the pole. Given that Indy Lights isn’t that competitive that might not sound like much, but it looked like the handling was going away on his car throughout the race. Eventual series champion Tristan Vautier was reeling him and Saavedra fended him off like a pro. It was impressive, it was a standout performance that most Indycar fans didn’t get to watch because of the crappy television package the Firestone Indy Lights series has.
Like a young pitcher who goes up the majors and looses it Saavedra dropped down, recommitted himself and earned a second shot. I’ll be very curious to see what he does with it.