By: Spencer Neff
March 12, 2020 | 12:35 PM
On Tuesday, Carlin Racing confirmed Felipe Nasr as the driver of its No. 31 entry for this weekend’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Nasr’s entry brings the number of rookies for this weekend to four. He also becomes the latest Brazilian driver to join the NTT IndyCar Series. Before his debut on track, here’s a look at his path to IndyCar.
As has become the norm in the paddock, Nasr began his racing pursuits in the karting world. Born in Brasilia, Distrito Federal, Nasr conquered several karting championships at a young.
By 2008, he made the jump to single-seaters. At age 15, Nasr and his father Amir’s team joined the Formula BMW Americas for the final round at the famed Interlagos circuit. While the races and championship were won by Alexander Rossi, Nasr finished fifth and third during his debut weekend.
The following year, EuroInternational gave Felipe an opportunity to move to Formula BMW Europe. In 16 starts, Nasr grabbed six victories and five poles en route to the season championship. As a guest driver in two Formula BMW Pacific races, Nasr also won from pole twice.
Formula 1 Aspirations
To begin the new decade, Raikkonen Robertson Racing offered Nasr the chance to join the ranks of British Formula 3.
With future IndyCar race winner Carlos Huertas as one of his teammates, Nasr won at Rockingham and finished fifth in the championship standings. Later that year, he finished 11th in his debut at the infamous Macau Grand Prix.
Although he stayed in British Formula 3 for 2011, Nasr switched over to Carlin for the new season.
In what proved to be a formidable partnership, the Brazilian nabbed seven race wins and four pole positions as he took the season championship. In his second Macau Grand Prix, he finished runner-up to Marco Wittmann.
Global Racing Pursuits
While Nasr did make two starts in the Formula 3 Euro Series and finished fifth at the Macau Grand Prix, he made the bulk of his racing starts for 2012 in GP2 with DAMS. During his 24 starts, Nasr earned four podium finishes and ended the year tenth in points.
In January of 2012, Nasr also joined Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian for the Rolex 24 at Daytona, finishing third overall with co-drivers Jorge Goncalvez, Gustavo Yacaman, and Michael McDowell. All three of his co-drivers had prior experience in America’s open-wheel racing series.
2013 and 2014 marked a return to Carlin for Nasr, as he would join the team’s GP2 entry. Over the two seasons, Nasr earned four race victories and three pole positions – all in 2014, where he finished third in points.
During the 2014 season, Nasr also served as a test driver with Formula 1’s famed Williams Martini Racing.
By 2015, the goal of reaching Formula 1 became a reality for Nasr as he and future IndyCar racer Marcus Ericsson were tabbed to drive for Sauber F1.
In his first Grand Prix, Nasr finished a career-best fifth in Australia. During his first season, Nasr earned six top-10 finishes. After losing out on a ride for 2017, Nasr did not compete in a major auto racing series.
Following a year away, Nasr moved stateside to compete in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
After three pole positions and a win at Belle Isle, Nasr and co-driver Eric Curran won the championship driving the DPi (Daytona Prototype) for Whelen Engineering Racing.
During the 2018 season, Nasr also earned four European LeMans podium finishes and finished 11th at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Cetilar Villorba Corse.
During the winter, he served as a guest driver in Stock Car Brazil and entered three Formula E races. In 2019, Nasr earned victories at the 12 Hours of Sebring and Road Atlanta’s Petit Le Mans while finishing second in the points standings.
Over the summer, Nasr also earned an IndyCar test with Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
After finishing seventh in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Nasr has spent the past few weeks preparing for a potential IndyCar opportunity.
On February 11 and 12, he and countryman Sergio “Siette” Camara split time in Carlin’s No. 31 entry during the Open Test at Circuit of the Americas. With conditions hampering the sessions, Nasr was only able to run 26th of 27 drivers.
However, he posted the fastest lap time in a test of 15 drivers at Sebring International Raceway just a week ago. On Tuesday, Nasr was confirmed for his first start at St. Petersburg this weekend.
“I’m very pleased to be joining Carlin for my first ever weekend in an Indy car in St. Petersburg this weekend,” Nasr expressed.
“It’s nice to see that all the work we’ve put into this program together has finally paid off. I’m thankful for Trevor Carlin for giving me the opportunity to drive the No. 31 Carlin Chevrolet this weekend and to Chevy for supporting this program.”
As his team enters its third NTT IndyCar Series season, car owner Trevor Carlin is optimistic given the strong tests and spoke glowingly about Nasr’s performance so far.
“We’re very much looking forward to getting the season underway this weekend in St Pete,” Carlin emphasized.
“Felipe has been a great asset so far with his setup work and feedback at COTA and in Sebring in particular. With an impressive background to his credit, Nasr looks to make the most of his first IndyCar opportunity.”
Header Image By Joe Skibinski/INDYCAR