Two months removed from the crowning of 2013 IndyCar Series Champion Scott Dixon, focus has shifted to the season ahead as teams begin to prepare. Part of the preparation includes testing to continue to improve the product.
Seven teams headed to Sebring Raceway today to test and tune on their packages in hopes to beat Dixon next season.
From Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver Simon Pagenaud, he said it felt good to be back behind the wheel of his IndyCar.
“It’s very important through the winter season to be able to use the test days to experience things we wouldn’t do during the race weekend,” he commented. “There are a lot of items, a lot of experimental things we want to try and hopefully understand what direction they could take us and apply it to the race car in the future. The whole goal is to have more performance out of the race car and make it easier for me to extract the best out of it.”
For Josef Newgarden, he says it’s nice to not only get some laps in, but also get the guys working together again.
“I think it keeps everyone on their toes throughout the offseason,” the Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing driver said. “I think there’s a chance to get a little out of rhythm if you’re off the track for too long. Even for me as a driver, it’s great to be back behind the wheel for a couple of days. It keeps you fresh and keeps your brain thinking over the holidays.”
For Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal, it gave him another chance work with race engineer Bill Pappas in hopes to find more speed and win some races next year.
“I think we’ve already highlighted issues that we had last year,” he said. “We have a long list of items that we want to try, and with two days here we’ll get a chance. With Honda, we’re running the single turbo today and the twin turbo (Dec. 19) and just help them develop.”
Honda will be debuting a brand new twin turbo motor last year in hopes to keep on par with Chevrolet’s twin turbo motor. One of the teams that is helping in the development is Andretti Autosport, as they make the switch from Chevrolet to Honda for 2014. This marked James Hinchcliffe’s first time with the new Honda motor and he says the difference between the two is surprising.
“It’s really cool to see how the two manufacturers approach things and solutions to certain problems that everyone is going to have,” he said. “It was a cool experience. For a driver, being part of development is a lot of fun. Having spent two years with Chevy, we have some insight that we can bring to the table and we’re obviously learning a lot from the Honda guys as well. Hopefully, pooling all that knowledge together, we can build a good product for the race season.”
While A.J. Foyt Racing’s Takuma Sato ran Honda power last year, it marked his first chance trying out the new twin turbo motor.
“I’ve only done a few laps with it in the morning, but I had a good, positive taste of it,” he said. “Hopefully, this afternoon we can get more miles on it and get prepared for 2014.”
The 2014 season begins in March at St. Petersburg. Teams will continue testing tomorrow as preparations for the next year continue.