Briscoe completes first test for Ganassi since December signing

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Ryan Briscoe didn’t get to test for his new employers in 2013, so on Friday, he was finally able to step back into a Chip Ganassi Racing IndyCar for the first time as one of their full-time drivers since 2005.

Briscoe raced CGR’s fourth car at last year’s Indianapolis 500, finishing 12th, before racing selected events with Panther Racing the rest of the year. He entered IndyCar as a rookie with CGR in 2005, in the team’s third car. Two years of excelling in part-time opportunities in 2006-’07 led to his full-time seat with Team Penske, which he held from 2008 through 2012.

Now, he will be back full-time in IndyCar after a fractured 2013 that saw him split his time between open-wheel and sports cars. Briscoe expressed a great sense of appreciation for the stability after completing his first laps at Sebring last Friday in the No. 8 NTT Data Chevrolet.

“It feels great.  It feels so good to be back doing a test knowing that it’s preparation for an entire season and with a team that we are hoping that is going to be extremely competitive,” Briscoe said, via a Chevrolet manufacturer release.

The quartet of CGR cars were on hand as part of a 10-car Chevrolet manufacturer test, so Briscoe had the opportunity to test alongside teammates Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan and Charlie Kimball. Briscoe will work with Eric Cowdin, who was his engineer for a period at Penske, while Kanaan shifts to the Chris Simmons-engineered No. 10 Target Chevrolet.

“I’m excited. I had a really good first day here in Sebring, got through some set-up items and basic just tuning to understand my driving style to what they have developed already,” Briscoe explained. “Just trying to understand those kinds of things and it was a good day.  We come out of the day knowing a lot more than we did going in.  It’s a good start to the year.”

Briscoe will be among a host of IndyCar drivers in action at next week’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, Jan. 25-26. He’ll co-drive with Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia in the No. 3 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R in the GTLM class of the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. Briscoe has past experience at the Rolex in Daytona Prototypes, but this will be his first race in the factory Corvette program.

F1 2017 driver review: Sergio Perez

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Sergio Perez

Team: Sahara Force India
Car No.: 11
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P4 (Spain)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 1
Points: 100
Championship Position: 7th

While failing to hit the podium as he did in both 2015 and 2016, Sergio Perez once again finished the year as Formula 1’s leading midfield team driver, but faced a greater fight from within Force India in the shape of Esteban Ocon.

Perez has long been knocking on the door of F1’s top teams should an opportunity come up, and 2017 saw him continue his solid if unspectacular form. The dominance of Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari meant any finish higher than seventh was impressive, something he managed to do on five occasions.

But there were some missed opportunities along the way, most significantly in Baku. Force India had been quick all weekend, with Perez charging to sixth on the grid, and when drama struck at the front, he and teammate Ocon were eyeing a podium finish as a minimum.

Contact between the two forced Perez to retire and prompted Ocon to pit for repairs, leaving the team without the top-three finish it targeted heading into the season. With Lance Stroll taking P3 for Williams and Daniel Ricciardo winning the race, a maiden victory for Force India was not out of the realm of imagination.

Perez and Ocon came to blows on a number of occasions, with the final straw coming in Spa when they twice touched on-track, prompting Force India to introduce team orders. Perez finished the year 13 points clear of Ocon in the final standings, meeting his own pre-season target of 100 points, yet the Frenchman had arguably made the bigger impression at Force India through his first full season in F1.

Force India remains the top underdog in F1 with Perez spearheading its charge, but it is difficult to see either taking the final step to becoming true contenders at the front of the field anytime soon, as solid as their displays have been.

Season High: P4 in Spain after retirements for the ‘big three’.

Season Low: Losing a sure-fire podium, if not a win, in Baku after contact with Ocon.