Say this about Schmidt Peterson Motorsports rookie Tristan Vautier: he already has developed veteran-like tendencies in managing expectations and just taking his learning in IndyCar one step at a time.
Asked Thursday in Long Beach whether he was either surprised or excited with his fast start to the season, with back-to-back Firestone Fast Six appearances at St. Petersburg and Barber, Vautier said neither, because either answer would paint him into a corner.
“If you’re surprised, you don’t think you trust yourself. And if you say you’re excited, it’s pretentious!” Vautier said, candidly. “I didn’t set any expectations going in, so I’m not going to say I’m surprised or not surprised.”
What he did help do, though, was push the team to get back out when told he would be in the Fast Six at Barber, following a blocking penalty issued to A.J. Foyt Racing’s Takuma Sato.
“Yeah basically, I was pissed, and the team had to take the car off pit lane,” Vautier explained. “We were told by IndyCar in the briefings to get the cars off as quick as possible if we didn’t make it to the next segment. I was very frustrated with a big mistake.
“Then I saw myself on the top six when they switched, so I called the team and they didn’t believe me. It was funny. Then the guys made the car ready so fast.”
Vautier and Schmidt Hamilton teammate Simon Pagenaud have gelled, both on and off track. The two starred in a trip to Bass Pro Shops in Alabama, for some off-color humor beyond the series’ last race at Barber Motorsports Park.
Ferrari has released a short video of the first fire-up of its new power unit for the 2016 Formula 1 season at Maranello in Italy.
Although there is nothing to suggest what the new car will look like thanks to some cannily-terrible camera work, it is nevertheless an interesting snippet ahead of the new season.
Ferrari is yet to confirm when it will launch its 2016 runner, but is likely to do so online in the days leading up to the first pre-season test in Barcelona on February 22.
There has been much speculation about the new car as Ferrari bids to overhaul Mercedes at the head of the field and secure its first championship in eight years.
Sebastian Vettel will be hoping to build on an impressive maiden campaign with Ferrari in 2015 that yielded three race wins, while Kimi Raikkonen remains keen to pick up more silverware in what may be his last season in F1.
Along with new Chevrolet aerodynamic components being tried out at the “it’s green in February and it’s never this green the later into the year we get” Sonoma Raceway, the other interesting storyline out of Wednesday’s six-car Verizon IndyCar Series test was that it marked Max Chilton’s testing debut with Chip Ganassi Racing in the No. 8 Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. Chevrolet.
Chilton’s made the announcement, addressed the media and had his sponsor confirmed within the last week-plus.
But it was on Wednesday that the talking stopped and the driving restarted, for what was not only the 24-year-old Brit’s first time in an IndyCar but also his first time at Sonoma.
“It’s a bit of a shock today,” Chilton said, via a track-issued release. “I haven’t been in a racing car in six months and that was an Indy Lights car, so I’ve got to learn the track today and the car.
“But I think the morning went swimmingly well. I was quicker than I thought I would be. It’s a really nice kit and I can’t wait to explore it throughout the season.”
Here’s a few photos on social media, either ones he or the track shared, of his maiden day in an IndyCar.
Chilton’s next test comes later this week, still in California, at Auto Club Speedway for his first oval run in an IndyCar.
Chilton joined his three Chip Ganassi Racing teammates, Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan and Charlie Kimball, for the test. Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud also tested on Wednesday.
Pabst Racing has added a third driver to its Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda lineup, in the form of talented 19-year-old Australian driver Jordan Lloyd.
Lloyd raced the first two weekends of last year’s USF2000 season with John Cummiskey Racing before being sidelined due to financial woes, but he showed quite a bit of promise in those two weekends at St. Petersburg and NOLA Motorsports Park. He finished second in one of the NOLA races.
For 2016, Lloyd returns to the U.S. after winning the CAMS Jayco Australian Formula 4 championship last year, and was thus awarded with the ‘Road to the World’ scholarship.
“I only touched the tip of the iceberg when I was here in 2015, so on a personal level there is a lot of unfinished business that needs to be tended to,” Lloyd said in a team release. “I am looking forward to a strong season.”
Lloyd, who will drive the No. 21 car, joins the previously announced pairing of Garth Rickards and Yufeng Luo at Pabst, the Oconomowoc, Wisconsin-based team, as the USF2000 field for 2016 continues to grow both in terms of size and talent.
Luca Ghiotto will step up to the GP2 Series with Trident in 2016 after an impressive season in GP3 last year that saw him finish second in the championship standings.
Ghiotto made his GP3 debut at the end of 2014 with a four-race run-out for Trident before remaining with the Italian team for 2015.
It proved to be a memorable year as he won five races – more than any other driver – but fell eight points short of the title as Mercedes junior Esteban Ocon was crowed champion in Abu Dhabi.
Ghiotto will remain with Trident for 2016, stepping up to its GP2 operation after a successful test in Abu Dhabi at the end of last year.
“I can’t wait to line-up for this new adventure,” Ghiotto said. “Last year, it was tough for me to fight so hard and not winning the title. However, it has been an extremely useful experience with the help of the excellent teamwork among the whole Trident stable.
“I want to thank once again Maurizio Salvadori and Giacomo Ricci for their support, and the Italian Federation for believing so much in me. I really look forward to be back on-track.”