Scott Pye says he takes heart from seeing former team-mate Fabian Coulthard out-pacing his highly rated replacement, Scott McLaughlin, early in 2017.
Hailed as the saviour of DJR Team Penske when he stepped into the seat vacated by Marcos Ambrose two years ago, Pye was dumped by the team in favour of McLaughlin.
Although now focussed on his new assignment with Mobil 1 HSV Racing, Pye admits there remains a degree of bitterness over his exit from the American owned squad.
Pye and Coulthard proved closely matched in their single year as team-mates, where the Aussie out-qualified the Kiwi 13 times out of 29 attempts before finishing three places adrift in the standings.
Although early days, Coulthard has out-qualified McLaughlin for all six races so far this year and taken two wins to one across the Clipsal 500 and Albert Park events.
“What’s been encouraging for me is that I matched Fabian last year,” Pye told Supercars.com when asked for his view on Penske's form in 2017.
“There’s all this hype about Scott McLaughlin but he’s not pumping him like everyone said he would.
“Fabian is doing a good job. Him and I were very even last year and it’s been cool to see how he's going against McLaughlin.
“Every team needs a good driver combo that pushes each other and I’ve got that here (at Mobil 1 HSV Racing).
“Seeing those guys (Penske) doing well was a matter of time, but Tasmania is where we’ll really start to see if they have turned it around.
“When you look at it we weren’t that much worse off last year. Adelaide we were up there and Fabian was fast at Albert Park too.”
The Shell V-Power Racing Team’s breakthrough win last weekend came at the very track that marked the end of Ambrose’s comeback in 2015.
Pye feels his efforts to 'rescue' the team from the following event at Symmons Plains onwards weren’t properly recognised by its management last year.
“The only thing that you end up bitter about was the lack of gratitude that I was given at the end of it,” he continued.
“That’s what is disappointing. I did everything I could at the time to step in and help everyone there.
“There are some really good guys there that I really enjoyed working with.
“We came in and, so-to-speak rescued the drive when Marcos didn’t want to do it any more, so I feel I played a big part in actually keeping that team on track for that year.
“That is the only thing that is disappointing now.
“But I don’t really care what they’re doing down there because if we’re not winning then someone else is and it doesn’t matter who.”
Pye has had a challenging start to his tenure at Mobil 1 HSV Racing, but reports positive progress in adapting to the car after Albert Park.
He finished seventh in the final race of the weekend, right on the tail of his new team-mate James Courtney.
“For me it’s been a slower start than I’d have liked but the cars are very different,” he said.
“We have a package here that’s going to be good, it’s just early days.
“Finally for me I’ve got a team-mate that is highly regarded up and down pitlane, so when you’re beating him everyone knows you’re doing a really good job.
“I’m sure if I was in the car I was in last year I’d have come out the gate a little stronger but I think potentially we can do some pretty awesome things here.”