Takuma Sato will test for Formula E, which could alter Foyt seat

Leave a comment

Takuma Sato will join fellow ex-Formula One driver Lucas di Grassi as a test and development driver for the new Formula E series. This news was announced at the Tokyo Motor Show on Wednesday.

Sato’s ex-F1 team, Super Aguri, has also confirmed its participation in the championship that is set to begin in the fall of 2014. IndyCar squads Andretti Autosport and Dragon Racing have also announced their intentions; Andretti team boss Michael Andretti seems bullish on the concept.

And this news is somewhat interesting from an IndyCar angle. Sato and Honda were close to being confirmed for 2014, per A.J. Foyt in a September conference call, for their second season together. But since that point, Sato tore up more race cars in Houston and Fontana as part of a ragged second half of the season, and a planned test at Sebring on Monday was canceled as the team was removed from the list.

Neither partner is confirmed yet for Foyt in 2014. Sato and Honda have been inextricably linked since Sato made his F1 debut with the Jordan-Honda team in 2002, and Super Aguri was also born after Sato was dropped by the Honda factory team prior to 2006. In brief, if there’s no Honda, there’s no Sato at Foyt in 2014.

The FE season may not start until September, but testing and development will need to occur in the months prior. That may limit Sato’s IndyCar availability on the whole.

Ferrari, Mercedes launch 2018 F1 cars

Photo: Getty Images
Leave a comment

The title combatants from the 2017 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season both launched their 2018 challengers earlier on Thursday, with Scuderia Ferrari revealing the SF71H and Mercedes AMG Petronas revealing the W09.

For Ferrari, the SF71H represents an evolution of last year’s SF70H, which helped produce Ferrari’s best season in several years.

They presented a strong challenge to Mercedes for the championship, even leading the way at various points, with Sebastian Vettel recording five wins along the way. But, mechanical failures and crashes hampered their efforts late in the season, and they settled for second in the driver’s championship (with Vettel) and the constructor’s championship.

Entering 2018, the team is emphasizing the importance of building momentum with every race to ultimately secure their first constructor’s crown since 2008 and their first driver’s crown since 2007.

“There are no challenges actually. There are no challenges in the plural. There is just one challenge, which is the final challenge,” asserted team principal Maurizio Arrivabene. So that’s work that you build and you don’t build that work in one or two races. We’ve seen over the last few years, in the last championships, that you work race by race, and you always try to do the best you can.”

Technical director Mattia Binotto detailed some of the updates on the 2018 car, such as an new power unit and new suspension designs in anticipation of new tire constructions.

“We worked a lot on the power unit, we worked on its reliability and performance. We worked on the packaging, on suspensions in the rear axle because there will be new tires the following season, so we also tried to design the car to accommodate the new tires,” he explained.

Binotto added, “In regards to aerodynamics, we maintained our concept of having the inlets on the radiators, and everybody’s copying that, but we tried to make an additional step forward and what we showed today is not the same element of last year, but it is something more developed.”

Mercedes, meanwhile, will look to take it’s fifth consecutive driver’s and constructor’s championships with the W09. The team even took the car to the track for its launch, conducting a filming day at Silverstone Circuit.

“It is always a very exciting time because what has been designed is coming together and coming alive,”  team principal Toto Wolff said during the launch.

Despite facing challenges with last year’s car, the W08, the team elected to follow a similar design concept with the aerodynamics to improve on the car’s strengths while simultaneously addressing its weak points.

“We like some of the character traits from our diva,” Wolf quipped. “The W08 was the fastest car on the grid, scoring the highest number of pole positions and winning the most races last year. So we were careful not to lose the car’s many strengths just to overcome the difficulties.”

Both Ferrari and Mercedes are expected to slug it out again for the 2018 driver’s and constructor’s championships.

Follow@KyleMLavigne