Simon Pagenaud, reigning champion of the IndyCar Series, joins the Richard Mille team of drivers. The Frenchman who has conquered America will be sporting the brand’s livery.
“I enjoyed my first meeting with Richard, we share the same passion for racing and cars and we have a lot in common,” he says. “When you look at a Richard Mille watch, there is no cutting corners, they go the extra mile, the question is not how much is this part going to cost, it is how can we do this better with increased quality and best design. Every day is a quest to understand how can we do this better? This search for perfection is what drives me and what every Richard Mille watch represents.”
A die hard fan of Ayrton Senna, Simon Pagenaud dreamt of driving for Ferrari, or for Penske, the most decorated IndyCar team in the United States. With a clear goal in mind: to become an F1 or IndyCar driver, he set out on his career path in 1994, via karting. He moved to full size automobiles in 2001, thanks to his victory the preceding season in the Volant Elf competition. Proving himself in the classic series sponsored by Renault (Formula Renault and WSR), he climbed to the highest rung before deciding to pursue his career across the pond.
“My path is a lot different than most racers. My family was never involved in racing, so finding a starting point and learning the business has been a tough task,” he says.
In 2005, he tried out with several teams in the Atlantic Championship, then in the process of a makeover, and ultimately signed with Team Australia. He claimed the title that same year, moving to the starting grid of the Champ Car World Series for the next season. In 2008, Pagenaud participated in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) championship with Gil Ferran, before replacing Scott Sharp at Patrón Highcroft Racing. In 2010, he was crowned the victor. For the three following years, Simon competed in the ALMS while also participating in world-class events like the Le Mans 24 Hours, coming in first 2nd and then 1st in the 1,000 kilometres of Spa-Francorchamps.
But the turning point in his career was just around the bend, awaiting him with his first races in the IndyCar category, North America’s foremost single-seater competition. He seized the opportunity to replace driver Ana Beatriz, who had sustained an injury, then signed with Sam Schmidt Motorsports, ultimately competing in the entire IndyCar season. A rewarding experience, as he was named Rookie of the Year for 2012, and ranked fifth overall with Schmidt. Three years later, in 2015 thanks to excellent performances, the driver signed with the prestigious Team Penske. In 2016, he won the championship, claiming five Grand Prix victories.
He says: “2016 has been my best year so far in terms of reaching the crown jewel: we won the driver championship in Indycar with a dominant performance. I find new resources within myself every day, and I can’t wait for what’s coming next.”
The future looks bright for Simon, who picked up his first oval win in Phoenix, on April 30th. His first season win and the tenth of his career gives him the lead in the overall championship, sending a strong message to his opponents less than a month before the Indianapolis 500.
Simon, the first Frenchman ever to dominate the discipline, is thrilled to be living his dream. Known in North America as ‘Le Patron’, the top IndyCar driver will now wear the RM 11-02 Automatic Dual Time Zone in every race.