Andretti Autosport have announced a change in approach for the 2024 IndyCar season. What is their ideal driver lineup moving forward?
For the last several IndyCar seasons, Andretti Autosport have opened up at least one of their four cars to a driver who brings funding.
But beginning in 2024, they are set to take a new approach and hire who they believe to be the best four drivers available rather than continuing to hire “pay drivers”.
What will their driver lineup look like next year? Here is an ideal scenario for the team seeking their first championship since 2012.
Andretti Autosport 2024 IndyCar lineup: No. 26 Honda – Colton Herta
Colton Herta signed a long-term contract extension with Andretti Autosport last year, and with talk of a potential move to Formula 1 having quieted down, now is the time for him to focus on being the best IndyCar driver he can be.
Herta is lightning-fast and is capable of winning anywhere, but he still lacks consistency. He has seven career wins, but he could easily be in double digits by now if not for unforced errors and strategy issues that are undoubtedly reflective of the team’s relative lack of time spent running at the front and controlling races in recent years.
Perhaps a bit more stability within the team will do him good as he aims for his first championship.
Andretti Autosport 2024 IndyCar lineup: No. 27 Honda – Kyle Kirkwood
Kyle Kirkwood has not exactly been consistent in his first season with Andretti Autosport, but that’s just it; it’s only his first season. He has shown impressive speed following his move from A.J. Foyt Enterprises and won in only his third start behind the wheel of the No. 27 Honda, which was not surprising to anybody who watched his dominance in the Road to Indy ladder system.
Aside from his win on the streets of Long Beach, he ran as high as second place in the Indy 500 before getting caught up in a spectacular crash, a welcome sign for a team that really haven’t been relevant in the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” for a few years. He is a driver whom the team can build around for years to come.
Andretti Autosport 2024 IndyCar lineup: No. 28 Honda – Romain Grosjean
Romain Grosjean is listed here on one condition: he improves throughout the rest of the 2023 season. If he can do that, then he is a part of Andretti Autosport’s best-case scenario moving forward. If not, then he is not.
Grosjean has been close to winning his first race a number of times this year alone, but he is still searching for his first trip to victory lane — in anything — in more than a decade.
Recent struggles and mistakes have resulted in stalled contract talks, and that could very well spell the end of his tenure behind the wheel of the No. 28 DHL-sponsored Honda, in which case the team would need two new drivers in 2024.
Andretti Autosport 2024 IndyCar lineup: No. 29 Honda – Marcus Ericsson
We know for a fact, barring an Alex Palou-like winning streak that comes out of absolutely nowhere, that there will be a change behind the wheel of the No. 29 Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport Honda. Devlin DeFrancesco brings funding, but he hasn’t brought results, having finished no higher than 12th place since joining the team a year ago.
2022 Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson, who wants to be treated (paid) like a top driver, is at a contract stalemate with Chip Ganassi Racing. Chip Ganassi Racing prefer that he continues to bring funding, but that may not be possible after 2023.
If they can’t come to an agreement, Ericsson will be looking to move elsewhere, and he is said to be a top target of Michael Andretti’s team.
Here’s a stat for you: the Steinbrenner entry had as many top 11 finishes in the 2020 season finale alone than it has since. Ericsson has just one finish outside of the top 10 in 2023.
He already has a nice tie to the Steinbrenner family.
What if Romain Grosjean doesn’t improve?
Look no further than David Malukas, who has already announced that he will be leaving Dale Coyne Racing at the end of the 2023 season to join a bigger team.
While Andretti Autosport have options among drivers not currently IndyCar, such as Andretti Formula E driver Jake Dennis and 2022 Indy Lights champion Linus Lundqvist, Malukas has shown immense potential in his one-plus season in IndyCar already, and he is sure to generate interest among other top teams in the paddock for that reason.
Andretti Autosport have shown their belief in the Road to Indy system before with Herta and Kirkwood. Adding another young driver to this roster — and preventing him from being picked up by a rival team — can further bolster this organization’s lineup and make it even more formidable for years to come.