One of the surprise announcements of the offseason was when Juncos Racing named Rene Binder to a four-race schedule driving in the Verizon IndyCar Series. Though Binder has driven extensively in Europe during his career, the March 11 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be his first taste of racing in America.
Binder’s racing odyssey starts in karting in 2002, where the native of Innsbruck, Austria spent the first seven years of his career. The highlight of Binder’s karting career was a runner-up finish in the German Karting Championship, which he accomplished in 2008.
The following year, Binder began his formula racing career, doing so in Formula Masters with the Abt Sportsline team, notching three podium finishes in 16 starts, good enough for a seventh-place finish in the championship.
In 2010, Binder moved up to German Formula 3 and would race with Motopark Academy, earning one podium finish and ending the season 12th in points. The Austrian moved to Jo Zeller Racing for the 2011 season, again amassing a podium finish and moving up to eighth in the final standings. He would also make two starts in Formula Two for MotorSport Vision.
2012 would mark Binder’s third season in Formula 3, and again he would do so with a new team, running the season with Van Amersfoort Racing. The Innsbruck native would break through and score his first three career victories, adding an additional four podium finishes to conclude the season with a sixth-place finish in points. Binder also made his GP2 debut, driving in six races with Venezuela GP Lazarus.
The team and Binder would run the 2013 GP2 Schedule on a full-time basis. Accumulating four top-ten finishes during Binder’s 21 races on the 22-race calendar.
Arden International added Binder to their team for the 2014 GP2 Series and despite amassing top-ten finishes in the season’s first two races, Binder would finish no better than 11th in any of the remaining 20 events and concluded the year 25th in points.
Trident added the Austrian racer to their team for GP2 in 2015, and Binder would run the first 12 races of the season for Trident. After not running the two series events at Spa-Francorchamps, Binder ran the final eight races of the year with MP Motorsport, including his best finish of the year, an eighth-place effort in the sprint race at the famed Monza circuit in Italy.
Although he made four starts in GP2, splitting his time equally with ART Grand Prix and Carlin Motorsport, the following year would see the Austrian take on a new challenge in racing.
Building on the two starts he made in Formula V8 3.5 Series, Binder moved to the series full-time in 2016 with the Lotus team. In 18 starts, Binder finished on the podiums five times during the season and earned a seventh-place finish in the championship standings.
Binder remained with the team for 2017 and would have arguably his best season in formula racing yet. During the 18-race season, Binder won four races and two poles, and added an additional podium finish as he would place seventh in the final season standings.
With the series ending following the year, the opportunity arose for its drivers to move on to new pursuits. Binder would do just that, as he was added to Juncos Racing’s lineup in the Verizon IndyCar Series for four races. The team, which debuted at the 2017 Indianapolis 500 with Sebastian Saavedra and Spencer Pigot, will run Binder in the no. 32 car at the season opener in St. Petersburg, as well as at Barber Motorsports Park, the Toronto street course and Mid-Ohio.
Racing in America is a welcome opportunity for the Austria native, as he mentioned in a team press release announcing his hiring on January 5.
“I am honored to be a part of the Verizon IndyCar Series for the 2018 season,” said Binder.
“I have been a huge fan of INDYCAR and what the series has to offer to me as a driver. I had a hard decision to make this year on which path I would take in my career, and I am confident that I made the right decision. Right now, we have signed for four races, but I hope to add more to our schedule as the season progresses. I would like to thank my sponsors, family and Juncos Racing for giving me this opportunity.”
His team will also be relishing the opportunity to move their efforts forward, and team owner Ricardo Juncos is looking forward to seeing his new driver’s efforts throughout the year.
“I am happy to welcome Rene (Binder) to our team and we are thrilled to be a part of his North American debut,” said Juncos in the press release.
“Rene has a successful background running in the World Series V8 and GP2, along with the testing he has done within Formula 1, and I know he will carry that momentum into the Verizon IndyCar Series this year. The timing is right for a talented driver like Rene to join, as everyone will be starting over with the new INDYCAR aero kits. I want to thank Rene for choosing Juncos Racing for his INDYCAR debut, along with his sponsors and family for this opportunity.”
Although Binder may be unfamiliar to open-wheel racing in America, he will have the chance to provide a great first impression early on while racing in two of the first four Verizon IndyCar Series events in 2018.
Images courtesy of INDYCAR Media.