Mikhail Aleshin never fulfilled his dream to become the first Russian racing driver in Formula One. He actually never entered F1 but instead of that, he became the first Russian to compete in the American IndyCar Series. Only championship title he has win during his career was Formula Renault 3.5 Series title. Except in the open-whell formulas, Aleshin experienced racing with prototypes and GT cars, participating at 24-hour races at Le Mans, Daytona and Spa.
First racing steps as a 9-year-old boy
Mikhail, who was born on May 22nd, 1987, in the Russia's capital Moscow, entered his first racing competition as a 9-year-old boy. He competed with karting for next six years, until 2002, when he switched to Russian Formula 3 championship.
In 2003, Aleshin moved to Formula Renault 2.0 series, driving for JD Motorsport in the German championship and the Eurocup. In 2004, he remained in the cockpit of Renault-powered Tatuus but again without notable results, with just three podiums in 30 races. The first victory in the German Formula Renault came in 2005, together with six more podiums, and Aleshin finished 2nd in the championship.
Aleshin joined Carlin in 2006
Between the season 2005 and 2006 Aleshin represented Russia in two races of the A1 GP series. In 2006, Aleshin stepped up to Formula Renault 3.5 Series as a Carlin's driver. He reached two podiums in 17 races and finished 12th in the standings.
In April 2007, Aleshin became the first Russian driver to win a major international single-seater race. He took the victory in the opening round of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series season at Monza. Later in the season he replaced injured Michael Ammermüller in the ART Grand Prix team for four races of the GP2 Series. Despite one victory in the FR 3.5 Series, Aleshin finished just 13th in the points.
Third place in the 2009 Formula Two Championship
In 2008, without victories he scored much better season result, finishing fifth in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series. The next competition he entered was the FIA Formula Two Championship in 2009. With one victory at Oschersleben and four more podiums, he finished third in the championship.
In 2010, Aleshin returned to Carlin and Formula Renault 3.5 Series, taking the championship title with three victories in 17 races. During that season Vitaly Petrov became the first Russian driver in the Formula One, so Aleshin had hopes that he could be the second.
Championship title and Formula One test in 2010
He participated in the post-season Formula One test for the young drivers, driving for Renault F1 team. He was assured that he has a future in Formula One, but his F1 debut never happened.
Instead of F1, he competed in the GP2 Series during 2011, driving for Carlin. It was the team's first season in the GP2 competition and results were under expectations. Aleshin started the season in the GP2 Asia Series but due to short budget, he stepped back to the ATS Formel 3 Cup. He later re-joined Carlin at the opening round of the GP2 Series, but crashed in qualifying and missed the most of the season because of injury. After the recovery, he collected six GP2 races and finished last in the standings.
Two more seasons in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series
In 2012, Aleshin returned to Formula Renault 3.5 Series with Team RFR. He scored one podium and finished 13th in the points. In the next season, driving for Tech 1 Racing, he missed podiums and finished 12th in the classification.
Driving Ferrari at Spa and Daytona 24-hour races
During 2013 season Aleshin joined SMP Racing in four races of the Blancpain Endurance Series, including the 24 hours of Spa. He was driving the Ferrari 458 Italia GT3.
Aleshin participated in one more famous endurance race driving Ferrari. In January 2014, he joined the Russian-American team SMP/ESM at 24 hours of Daytona. His teammates were Boris Rotenberg, Sergey Zlobin, Maurizio Mediani and Mika Salo. The #72 Ferarri 458 finished 21st overall and 4th in the GTD class.
The first Russian in the IndyCar Series
Later in 2014, the sensational transfer to IndyCar Series followed. Aleshin signed for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and competed full season, becoming not only the first Russian driver to race in the IndyCar Series but also the first Russian who scored the podium.
He finished second at Grand Prix of Houston. Aleshin scored six more top 10 results to finish 16th in the final classification. At Indianapolis 500, Aleshin finished 15th.
Horrific crash during practice at Fontana
The season ended with a heavy crash at Fontana during the practice session. Aleshin lost control in turn 4 and started to spin. Charlie Kimball, who was running behind Aleshin, slammed into Russian's car at almost the full speed of almost 200 mph. Both cars are demolished, Kimball was able to get out by himself while Aleshin was transferred to the hospital in a critical condition.
Le Mans debut alongside Ladygin brothers
In 2015, Aleshin competed in the LMP2 class of the European Le Mans Series, driving two different prototypes of three teams – AF Corse, SMP Racing and AF Racing. He finished on the podium in three races to take fifth place in the final classification.
Return to IndyCar Series
At the end of the season, Aleshin returned to IndyCar Series, driving for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports at the season-closing Grand Prix of Sonoma. Aleshin finished 10th. The contract was extended to the next season and Aleshin entered the 2016 IndyCar Series season with #7 Honda-powered Dallara DW-12.
The season 2016 begins with sensational pole position for Aleshin and SMP Racing at Rolex 24 at Daytona. The #37 BR01 prototype started from pole but finished the race only at 37th place.
Second IndyCar podium at Pocono Raceway
The 2016 IndyCar season also started with good performance, as Aleshin took 5th place at Grand Prix of St.Petersburg. Later in the season, he repeated fifth place at Iowa Speedway and then captured his second IndyCar Series podium in a career, finishing second at Pocono Raceway. At the end of the season, he was 15th in the points.
During 2016, Aleshin participated in four FIA WEC races with SMP Racing, including 24 hours of Le Mans. He was sharing the #27 BR01-Nissan with Nicolas Minassian and Maurizio Mediani, finishing seventh in the LMP2 class at Le Mans.