Indy Lights testing continues at Sebring

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Firestone Indy Lights drivers and teams will be busy over the next week or so thanks to two Open Test sessions in the Southeast.

Tomorrow and Friday will see the Lights contingent tackle the famous Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway, and then they’ll join the IZOD IndyCar Series for testing at Barber Motorsports Park (Birmingham, Ala.) next Monday. Nine participants, one of them being a Sam Schmidt Motorsports driver that’s yet to be determined, are expected to take part in the Sebring test.

Amongst that group is top American prospect Zach Veach, who has moved up to Lights this season with Andretti Autosport. Veach and teammate Carlos Munoz were at the top of the charts in January’s FIL Open Test session on the Homestead-Miami Speedway road course, and the 18-year-old Ohioan believes that working with Munoz (who finished fifth in Lights last season) will make him a better racer.

“I’m very fortunate to have such a strong teammate this year like Carlos,” Veach said in a recent INDYCAR teleconference. “He was very successful last year, and he’s really putting a lot of pressure on me this year and definitely making me drive a lot harder.

“Throughout testing here the past couple of times, we’ve been [within] tenths or hundredths of Carlos, so I have a feeling that we’ll be really prepared as we go into the season, and I’ll be pushing really hard to get some wins this year.”

In addition to the Andretti duo of Veach and Munoz, Sam Schmidt Motorsports is expected to bring three drivers to Sebring: The aformentioned “Driver TBD,” Gabby Chaves, and 2012 Pro Mazda champion Jack Hawksworth. Also in for Sebring are two Belardi Auto Racing pilots, Jorge Goncalvez and Peter Dempsey, and Team Moore Racing’s Juan Pablo Garcia and Mikael Grenier.

Hamilton: Abu Dhabi ‘the last race with good-looking cars’ in F1

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Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.

Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.

Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.

“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.

“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”

Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.

“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.

“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”