Seven IndyCar teams get testing underway at Sebring

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After two seasons driving with a Chevrolet power plant, Andretti Autosport driver James Hinchcliffe ran his first laps with Honda’s new twin-turbo engine today during IndyCar testing at Sebring International Raceway.

According to the Canadian, he was “surprised” by the difference.

“It’s really cool to see how the two manufacturers approach things and solutions to certain problems that everyone is going to have,” Hinchcliffe said this morning. “It was a cool experience. For a driver, being part of development is a lot of fun.

“Having spent two years with Chevy, we have some insight that we can bring to the table and we’re obviously learning a lot from the Honda guys as well. Hopefully, pooling all that knowledge together, we can build a good product for the race season.”

Andretti Autosport is one of six Honda teams that are taking part in the Sebring test, which will stretch into tomorrow as well. Also involved is the Chevy-powered Ed Carpenter Racing, with its 2014 road/street course driver, Mike Conway, in the cockpit.

The test is particularly important for the Sam Schmidt camp, which will feature Russian newcomer Mikhail Aleshin next season along potential championship contender Simon Pagenaud (pictured, from this past season).

“There are a lot of items, a lot of experimental things we want to try and hopefully understand what direction they could take us and apply it to the race car in the future,” Pagenaud said of the test.

In addition, the test is also a way to simply keep from getting complacent according to Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing’s Josef Newgarden.

“It’s nice to get a couple days [of testing in], keep everyone flowing well and get the guys back out here working together,” the American said.

“I think it keeps everyone on their toes throughout the off-season. I think there’s a chance to get a little out of rhythm if you’re off the track for too long.”

Outside of Andretti, Schmidt and SFHR, the Honda contingent at Sebring also includes Rahal Letterman Lanigan, Dale Coyne Racing, and A.J. Foyt Racing, which confirmed the return of Takuma Sato to its team yesterday.

Verstappen doesn’t want F1 season to end after recent run of form

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Max Verstappen says he is not ready for the 2017 Formula 1 season to come to an end after enjoying a run of strong form through the closing stages of the campaign.

Verstappen endured a rocky run of form through to the end of the European season that saw him suffer a number of reliability issues and score just a single podium finish, taking third in China back in April.

However, the Dutchman has rallied to score more points than any other driver in the last five races, including victories in Malaysia and Mexico, as well as a podium finish in Japan.

Verstappen heads into next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix chasing a third win of the year to sign off, but joked he does not want the season to end just as he’s got into a good groove.

“We will, of course, try and end the season with a strong result in Abu Dhabi,” Verstappen said. “Last year was actually quite a good race after skipping a pit stop following a spin at Turn 1, it was hard to manage the tires to the end of the race but we did it and finished fourth.

“I would say that my favorite part of the track is at Turns 2 and 3, the fast left, right. It’s also very cool driving underneath the hotel and racing in the darkness with all the lights.

“The final sector at Yas Marina is actually quite technical so you have to be really precise there, but it should also be our strongest part of the track.

“There are quite a few overtaking opportunities to make the race interesting, before the long straight at the hairpin and then at the end of the straight under braking for the next chicane section.

“Abu Dhabi is the last race on the calendar, but I don’t actually want the season to end. I’m really fired up at the moment and I just want to keep going.

“The nice thing will be to spend some time with friends and family over the winter break and then I will look ahead to January and get back into training before it all starts again.”