Blindsiding Triple Eight boss Roland Dane, who yesterday labelled Lacroix “duplicitous” for cutting the deal in secret, it is the latest in a series of moves from Penske aimed squarely at Supercars success.
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Although still yet to win a race 12 months after Scott Pye took Penske's first Supercars podium at Pukekohe, Winterbottom is one of many expecting big things from the squad in 2017.
“It's slightly worrying as a driver seeing where that team is going,” Winterbottom told Speedcafe.com.
“If they want something they just go out and get it.
“When you buy an asset like that (Lacroix) you're buying a lot of intel.
“It's pretty powerful and they're making a big statement.
“I don't feel like we can't beat them, but there's no doubt they're going to be a major force.
“Now they've got the drivers they want and they've got the engineers they want.
“I think everyone's worried, but we've got the same basic equipment so it will be good for us as well.
“If they are winning with what they've got we should be able to too. It'll be a big carrot for our guys.”
DJR Team Penske has so far refused to comment on Lacroix's deal, while its 2017 drivers McLaughlin and Coulthard also dodged questions on the topic.
McLaughlin is thought likely to be paired with Lacroix next season if the Frenchman is assigned race engineering duties, leaving Coulthard to continue with Keed.
“I got pretty good at French working with Alex (Premat at Garry Rogers Motorsport), but I'm not sure if I'll need to use it again,” smiled McLaughlin when asked of the situation by Speedcafe.com.
Coulthard, who was second fastest on Friday, meanwhile stressed his desire to focus on the weekend at hand.
“I read it (news of Lacroix's deal) in the media during the week and I'm not 100 percent sure of the situation,” he said.
“At the end of the day we're focussed on the racing here this weekend.
“We need to do the best job we can to maximise here, especially in front of my home crowd.”