As the Indycar circus has wrapped up its main event – the Indianapolis 500 – and now lands in Detroit on Belle Isle, the driver’s carousel is beginning to take shape. The Dutchman Rinus van Kalmthout, stage name ‘VeeKay’ in America, remains one of the protagonists.
His strong start to the season made Van Kalmthout one of the stars in the world even before the Indy 500 silly season, when the paddock is full of rumours and the traditional musical chairs erupt. The fact that his ‘500’ was finished prematurely – the exact cause of his remarkable crash has still not been determined – has not changed that. During the entire Month of Maywith all the training and qualifications that the Indy 500 counts, the Dutchman has made an impression.
Ed Carpenter, team principal and owner of the eponymous Ed Carpenter Racing that Van Kalmthout represents, already called it ‘a priority to keep Rinus’ in advance – and nothing has changed about that either. However, there is no lack of interest in Van Kalmthout. The first moves in the 2023 drivers’ market have now been made, with Alexander Rossi moving to McLaren and Kyle Kirkwood replacing him at Andretti Autosport, so that the transfer-free Van Kalmthout at the end of this year is now one of the protagonists.
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There are, it sounds like from the Indycar paddock, ‘more than three or four teams’ that have him (high) on their wish list. One such team, according to the rumor mill, is Arrow McLaren SP. Van Kalmthout himself confirmed before the Indy 500 to FORMULE 1 Magazine that ‘it is true that there is interest from other teams, including McLaren’, but did not want to comment further on names. Except that he emphasized that staying with ECR is of course also a very real option for him.
“We still have a long way to go this year, so I’m not thinking about my future yet. However, it does give a boost to be popular”, explained Van Kalmthout. GP Sports Management, which looks after its business, may only speak with parties other than ECR in accordance with the contract from 1 August. There is still room at the aforementioned McLaren, despite announcing this week that Rossi is coming and Pato O’Ward is staying: McLaren wants to expand to three cars and Felix Rosenqvist’s stay is uncertain.
Andretti Autosport, on the other hand, seems to be full, but a seat may become available at superpower Ganassi, now that there are rumors that McLaren also has a crush on defending champion Alex Palou. Again, Van Kalmthout does not want to name names himself and also emphasizes that he feels good at ECR. That undoubtedly sounds like music to the ears of team boss Carpenter: “Because we want to continue to grow and build the team around Rinus. We want to show him that he can achieve his ambitions here.”
The Indycar Detroit Grand Prix can be seen on Sunday evening from 9:15 PM Dutch time at Ziggo Sport Racing and from 11:00 PM on Ziggo Sport.
In the latest edition of FORMULE 1 Magazine, no. 08-09, you can read an extensive interview with Rinus van Kalmthout about the Indy 500, his Month of May, lucky underpants and the silly season. FORMULA 1 Magazine No. 08-09 is now in stores or can be ordered below – with free shipping.