Shakedown runs for new Mercedes, Toro Rosso cars

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The official start of Formula One testing in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain isn’t until Tuesday, but Mercedes and Scuderia Toro Rosso have taken their respective 2014 cars out for short shakedown runs.

According to a tweet from Mercedes, their new W05 machine ran 40 kilometers today at the Silverstone circuit in England. At the controls was Nico Rosberg (pictured), who said on Twitter: “Such a great feeling. Just drove my new silver arrow for the first time. It looks quick, but I don’t know if it is quick yet!”

Per Mercedes, Rosberg and teammate Lewis Hamilton will alternate each day of testing in Jerez, with Hamilton testing the W05 on Days 1 and 3 and Rosberg in for Days 2 and 4.

Meanwhile, Toro Rosso confirmed that they got in a filming day with both of their drivers, Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniil Kvyat, driving the new Renault-powered STR9 at the Misano circuit in Italy.

Both squads are set to officially launch their new challengers in Jerez – Toro Rosso going on Monday, Mercedes following on Tuesday.

Lest anyone think the two sides have somehow committed a violation of the F1 rule book by running early laps with their 2014 cars, this year’s Sporting Regulations state that each team can complete two promotional events outside of official testing during the year; those particular events cannot go over 100 kilometers in length and only Pirelli demo tires can be used in them.

MRTI: Keith Donegan earns Mazda Shootout Scholarship

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”

The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.

“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”

Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.

Follow @KyleMLavigne