Eight drivers – including three rookies prepping for this year’s Indianapolis 500 – took to Texas Motor Speedway on Wednesday to acclimate themselves with the new aero package to the track and gain some valuable oval laps of testing.
A year ago (right), Texas ran a modified wing package and with reduced downforce, produced one of the most exciting races of the season. Now, the wing package for Texas is more in line with what was featured at Indianapolis and Fontana, IndyCar’s two longest ovals (2.5 and 2.0 miles).
“It’s a lot different (from a stock car to drive around TMS),” Team Penske’s AJ Allmendinger told IndyCar.com, after his latest IndyCar test after shifting back from NASCAR. “A little track knowledge (helps), and all these mile-and-a-half tracks a little different – they have their own character – so it’s good to know but it’s still different.”
Besides Allmendinger, full season rookie Tristan Vautier and Andretti Autosport rookie Carlos Munoz were on hand turning their first oval laps in the Dallara DW12 chassis.
Veterans on hand included Vautier’s teammate Simon Pagenaud, Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s pair of Graham Rahal and James Jakes, Takuma Sato (A.J. Foyt Racing), and Ed Carpenter (his own ECR team).
No speeds were listed for the private test, but a year ago the pole speed at Texas was 215.691 mph set by Alex Tagliani.
Sunday’s United States Grand Prix could go down as a memorable race in Formula 1 history as both Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes bid to clinch their fourth world championships (live on NBC and NBC Sports app from 2pm ET).
Hamilton gave his chances of wrapping up the drivers’ title and re-claiming the crown he lost to Nico Rosberg in 2016 a world of good by charging to pole position on Saturday at the Circuit of The Americas.
However, with chief rival Sebastian Vettel starting second for Ferrari and a 16-point swing required, it seems likely that the title race could continue to next weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix.
Nevertheless, here are the permutations for Lewis Hamilton to win his fourth F1 world title on Sunday in Austin, Texas.
- If Lewis Hamilton wins the race (25 points) and Sebastian Vettel finishes sixth or lower (maximum eight points), he is world champion.
- If Hamilton finishes second (18 points), Sebastian Vettel finishes ninth or lower (maximum two points), and Valtteri Bottas does not win the race, he is world champion.
While Hamilton’s coronation seems likely to be postponed until the next race in Mexico, Mercedes looks nailed-on to wrap up its fourth consecutive constructors’ championship in Sunday’s USGP.
The German marque currently leads Ferrari by 145 points in the teams’ standings, and requires a lead of 129 after the race to clinch the crown.
As a result, a double top-four finish from Hamilton and Bottas would be enough for Mercedes to wrap up the title, regardless of how Ferrari fares.
The success would see Mercedes become just the fourth team in F1 history take four straight constructors’ titles, following Red Bull (2010 to 2013), Ferrari (1999 to 2004) and McLaren (1988 to 1991).
The United States Grand Prix is live on NBC and the NBC Sports app from 2pm ET on Sunday.