Justin Wilson officially back at Dale Coyne Racing for 2014

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Justin Wilson announced Wednesday he will return to Dale Coyne Racing for his third consecutive IndyCar Series season with the team, after returning to the squad in 2012. The 2014 season will mark his 11th straight year in the top level of North American open-wheel racing since his debut in 2004, a year after his single season in Formula One.

Wilson made the announcement during a series conference call. The team is yet to make a formal announcement, but with limited openings elsewhere on the grid, Wilson’s uncanny ability to upset the bigger teams will likely be on display once more in 2014.

“I was waiting to see if Dale would be taking up my option; we’re trying to make the necessary improvements,” said Wilson, who finished sixth in the 2013 points and likely would have been higher had he not had an accident in the season finale at Fontana.

“We’ve had a lot of discussions. He’s trying to be more consistent to make things easier,” he added. “We had some good performances last year, and feel we need to work on some consistency, in every aspect. The other teams have a couple more people, and can analyze that.”

Wilson is fully recovered from his injuries, resumed training and racing in this weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona with Michael Shank Racing. He’ll co-drive with the same trio he won overall in 2012, AJ Allmendinger, Ozz Negri and John Pew.

Additionally, Wilson confirmed Michael Cannon will work as his race engineer. Cannon engineered E.J. Viso’s fourth Andretti Autosport entry in 2013, and shifts to his sixth different team in five seasons (2010 HVM Racing with Simona de Silvestro, 2011 KV Racing Technology with Tony Kanaan, 2012 part-time with Ed Carpenter Racing and Carpenter, also was with Dragon Racing at Sonoma).

No timeframe was determined on figuring out who may slot in as Wilson’s teammate. Wilson had five different teammates in 2013 (Ana Beatriz, Pippa Mann, Mike Conway, Stefan Wilson, James Davison) and told MotorSportsTalk he’d like to have “just one teammate” if possible this year.

The team is likely to have its first test of the new year on February 3 at Sebring.

Ferrari, Mercedes launch 2018 F1 cars

Photo: Getty Images
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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.

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