Chevy works through program on first test day of 2014 IndyCar season

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Ten Chevrolet drivers put in the first major running of the 2014 IndyCar Series season with a one-day manufacturer’s test Friday at Sebring International Raceway’s short course.

Chevrolet’s IndyCar program manager, Chris Berube, outlined some of the goals the manufacturer is working on as it seeks its third straight Manufacturer’s Championship in 2014.

“The IndyCar engine homologation table allowed a fairly significant amount of change to the engine for 2014, including new turbochargers and fuel system revisions,” Berube said in a Chevrolet manufacturer release. “Work on all of that started last year and this first track test is an exciting yet anxious time for the engineers that toiled over and tortured the new bits to push the performance level up while maintaining the competitive advantage in reliability Chevrolet has had in 2012 and 2013.

“The engine change-out mileage increases from 2,000 to 2,500 miles in 2014 so achieving a 25 percent increase in life simultaneously with a performance increase is the holy grail of engineering development.”

Most of the Team Penske testing this offseason has focused on Juan Pablo Montoya as he reacclimatizes back to IndyCar after a several-year hiatus. Meanwhile teammate Will Power, who ended 2013 on a roll with three wins in the last five races, described the process of working through the first test of the year.

“Obviously we have the 2014 spec of the engine so just going through a few teething problems so we didn’t get that much running this morning,” Power said. “It is the first test of the year, I get (to) run with Helio (Castroneves) and Juan (Pablo Montoya) and I think it will be a good year. I think we’ve all got pretty good feedback and work together to get a better car.”

Montoya said he was struggling a bit with the balance while Castroneves thanked Chevrolet for the improvements, and praised the team’s ability to gather feedback and data for all three cars.

Besides the Penske trio, Chip Ganassi Racing’s quartet (Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Ryan Briscoe, Charlie Kimball), single-car entries from KVSH Racing (Sebastien Bourdais), Ed Carpenter Racing (Mike Conway) and Panther Racing (Carlos Huertas) also tested on Friday. A.J. Foyt Racing’s Takuma Sato was the only Honda runner.

Further Chevy-only tests will occur in February at Auto Club Speedway, in Fontana and Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.

Williams confirms Kubica and Sirotkin for Abu Dhabi F1 test

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Williams has confirmed that Robert Kubica will enjoy his third Formula 1 test outing with the team at the end-of-season running in Abu Dhabi next week as rumors grow regarding a possible race seat for 2018.

Almost seven years after his last F1 start, Kubica’s remarkable return from severe injuries sustained in a rally accident saw him enjoy two private tests with Renault before completing running with the team in a 2017-spec car in Hungary over the summer.

Reservations over Kubica’s capabilities prompted Renault to pass on giving him a seat, instead opting to hire Carlos Sainz Jr. for next year, only for Williams to become an alternative for the Pole.

Kubica tested a 2014-spec Williams at both Silverstone and the Hungaroring in recent months, and will now sample a 2017 car when he tests at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit next Tuesday and Wednesday.

Kubica will share track time with regular Williams racer Lance Stroll and Russian youngster Sergey Sirotkin, who has worked with Renault over the past two years but also missed out on a 2018 seat.

“Williams Martini Racing is pleased to confirm it will run Robert Kubica and Sergey Sirotkin for the Abu Dhabi Pirelli tire test, alongside current race driver Lance Stroll,” a statement from the team reads.

“The Pirelli tire test will take place over two days at the Yas Marina circuit during the week following the 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

“On day one Robert Kubica will drive the FW40 in the morning session, before Lance Stroll takes over in the afternoon.

“On day two Sergey Sirotkin will drive in the morning and afternoon sessions before handing over to Robert in the late afternoon.

“The test is aimed at evaluating 2018 candidate tires on behalf of the Formula 1 tire supplier Pirelli.

“Williams is excited to have this opportunity to assess the new tyres across such an interesting range of drivers: Lance, as confirmed race driver for 2018, Robert with his huge experience, and Sergey as a very promising young talent in Formula 1.”

Williams denied earlier this week it has signed Kubica to partner Stroll for 2018, but indications are the deal looks very likely to go ahead, subject to the relevant paperwork and contracts being finalized.