The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team accomplished a fair bit in two days of testing at Sebring earlier this week. Engine development with Honda’s new twin-turbo V6, street course setup and further tire development were all areas the team attacked at the central Florida short course.
“The test was excellent,” said SPM general manager Rob Edwards. “We had a long list of things to get through from a chassis, engine and team perspective. I think we ticked just about every box that we wanted to tick. We saw a lot of progress in Simon Pagenaud’s car with the twin-turbo Honda engines, and Mikhail (Aleshin) continues to hang right in there with Simon which is incredibly important with a rookie to make sure both cars are competitive.”
Aleshin’s engineer Allen McDonald said the Russian rookie is already getting a good handle on the tires, while Pagenaud’s engineer Ben Bretzman called this test our “sort of dress rehearsal for the street course running” in 2014.
Pagenaud, whose development skills are as widely renowned in the paddock as his overall ability, praised Honda’s improvements in particular.
“HPD and the whole SPM team were on top of their game,” he said. “We’ve made major improvements on the engine and it really is a huge plus. I can only congratulate Honda on the job they’ve been doing over the winter.”
Also of note, the team confirmed Aleshin will race with car No. 7, a number he has experience with in Europe. The No. 7 SMP Racing-backed entry shifts from the No. 55, which Tristan Vautier raced with in 2013.
Pagenaud’s No. 77 tested in the same black, blue and white livery at Sebring, as the commercial partner on that car is still to be determined.
On Monday, the Formula 1 schedule finally allowed teams to be in Europe before heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s season finale.
And as such, that provided a window for now four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to return to the Mercedes AMG Petronas factories in Brackley and Brixworth to be celebrated for taking the driver’s title, as Hamilton an Valtteri Bottas delivered Mercedes its fourth straight constructor’s title.
Hamilton was at Brixworth, the home of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and its highly successful Mercedes-Benz Power Units first before heading to Brackley, where he was welcomed with a “guard of honor” as the entire team came out to greet him.
The champion was overwhelmed at the response and the welcome.
“This a very emotional day. I was not expecting this, thanks everyone for the warm welcome,” he said. “Today is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me – I’m blown away.
“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone. I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me. Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100%, which encourages me to bring my best performance.
“Thank you all for helping me achieve my dreams, it would not have been possible without you. This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had – that just makes it so much greater.”
A social roundup of images and videos are below, all via Hamilton and the Mercedes team on social media.