Lotus to test Raikkonen, Prost, Valsecchi at Silverstone next week

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Next week’s young driver test at Silverstone (July 17-19) will actually include the second oldest driver on the Formula One grid – Kimi Raikkonen.

But the Lotus driver knows what he’s doing. He, like any other full-season entrants, is now eligible to participate in the test to sample Pirelli’s new compounds that have yet to make their race debut. Raikkonen will run on Friday, after Lotus development driver Nicolas Prost runs on Wednesday and third driver Davide Valsecchi runs on Thursday.

The decision was made in spite of the restrictive in-season testing rules and regulations.

“It’s great timing for us to have this season’s young driver test scheduled in the middle of the year as it allows us to evaluate more of the new parts we have for the E21 as the championship battle intensifies,” team principal Eric Boullier told the official Formula One website. “Remarkably, the UK has been having some notably good weather recently so we’re looking forward to getting some good running across the three days.”

Trackside operations director Alan Permane added: “Obviously we want to give all three drivers the maximum track time possible as well as assessing the latest upgrades to the car. Our aim on the third day will be to help Pirelli understand the latest changes to their tires at the same venue where they most notably had issues this season.”

Besides the tire test, this will also be a valuable time for Prost and Valsecchi to gain more mileage. Lotus’ driver situation for 2014 is very much fluid with rumors of Raikkonen (paid late by Lotus but still in its frame) potentially leaving to replace Mark Webber at Red Bull, and Nico Hulkenberg linked to the team as a potential replacement.

Montoya: ‘Hopefully I get a chance to do Indy again’ (VIDEO)

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Juan Pablo Montoya is on site at this weekend’s United States Grand Prix, his latest trip in a summer and fall filled with a lot of international travel and a number of different race cars he’s been in.

Montoya is committed to a full season in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with Acura Team Penske in 2018, as he’ll share one of the team’s Acura ARX-05s with Dane Cameron.

However, the question of whether he’ll be able to race in the 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil remains.

Team Penske has said it plans to only run four cars next month of May, with Helio Castroneves as the fourth driver alongside the three full-time cars driven by Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud and Will Power.

While Montoya has said elsewhere that he’s shopping offers and has talked with other teams, it’d be highly surprising to see the two-time Indianapolis 500 champion who developed the Chevrolet engine for IndyCar’s 2018 Dallara universal body kit in a Honda-powered IndyCar, although he is running Honda’s brand (Acura) in sports cars.

Montoya elaborated on his Indy 500 prospects in an interview with NBCSN pit reporter and insider Will Buxton at the Circuit of The Americas.

“Not full-time no,” Montoya told NBCSN of his IndyCar 2018 prospects. “Hopefully I get a chance to go to Indy, hopefully with Penske, (and) if not someone else. We’ll see.”

Photo: IndyCar

Montoya has extolled the early testing both on the 2018 IndyCar and on the Acura ARX-05.

The first Acura chassis has run at Road Atlanta and Sebring International Raceway thus far, and will be put through its paces at other venues over the next few months.

“It’s been good. We did a lot of work with INDYCAR on that car. Fans are gonna like it,” Montoya said of the 2018 kit.

“Going to IMSA with the Acura program, we’ve done a lot of testing. It’s a beauty to drive. It drives better than what it looks! I haven’t had that much fun driving a race car in a long time.”

Acura ARX-05 Daytona Prototype international (DPi) race car to be campaigned by Team Penske in 2018