Jack Hawksworth gets BHA IndyCar nod

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The 2014 IndyCar rookie class will grow by one, although not with the name many expected to take the reins of the No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport Honda.

Jack Hawksworth will join Carlos Munoz and Mikhail Aleshin as IndyCar freshmen in 2014, with the news the Englishman has been appointed by Herta to drive the team’s BBM/The Collection Auto Group/Castrol Honda-powered entry in 2014.

“I am absolutely delighted to be racing for Bryan Herta Autosport in the 2014 IndyCar Series,” said Hawksworth. “It has been a dream of mine for many years and I can’t wait to get started.”

Hawksworth has already completed three IndyCar tests at Sebring since September, one apiece with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, Dale Coyne Racing and a third just a couple weeks ago with BHA. The Sebring test impressed team co-owner Herta.

“Quite frankly, Jack really impressed us with a very strong test in Sebring last month,” Herta said. “He has had success at every level he has competed in to date and we believe he has the skills to maintain that going into the IndyCar series. Jack is well aware of the level of competition he is stepping into and we look forward to the season ahead.”

Hawksworth finished fourth in the 2013 Indy Lights championship, with three wins at the St. Petersburg, Toronto and Baltimore street circuits.

Meanwhile, Italian Luca Filippi had been the favorite all winter, and while proverbially “close” to a deal, nothing was completed for the driver who impressed in four starts for BHA last year.

He had this to tweet immediately after the announcement came out:

Hamilton leads damp first USGP practice at COTA, Hartley debuts

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Lewis Hamilton continued his impressive Formula 1 record at the Circuit of The Americas by topping opening practice for the United States Grand Prix on Friday for Mercedes.

A four-time winner of the USGP at COTA, Hamilton set the pace in damp conditions in first practice after rain hit the Austin area in the lead-up to the start of the session.

After initially venturing out on intermediate tires, Hamilton made the switch to super-softs at the halfway point in FP1, ultimately posting a fastest time of 1:36.335.

Hamilton’s time saw him finish over half a second clear of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who he could beat to the F1 drivers’ championship at COTA this weekend should results go his way.

Mercedes got two cars into the top three as Valtteri Bottas wound up third in the second W08 car, six-tenths back from Hamilton, while Max Verstappen ended FP1 fourth for Red Bull.

Felipe Massa led Williams into the top 10 with an impressive lap en route to fifth, finishing ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne.

Vandoorne was left to lead McLaren’s charge after a hydraulic leak sidelined Fernando Alonso for much of the session, limiting the Spaniard to just four laps in total.

Force India managed to get both its drivers up into the top 10 as Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez finished eighth and ninth respectively, edging out Renault’s Carlos Sainz Jr. who was P10 in his first appearance for the team.

Brendon Hartley enjoyed his first run-out in Toro Rosso’s STR12 car ahead of his grand prix debut on Sunday, taking P14 overall.

The New Zealander had not driven an F1 car since a test with Mercedes in 2012, but put in a solid first display in practice, even though his race hopes are set to be hindered by a grid penalty.

Second practice for the United States Grand Prix is live on the NBC Sports app from 3pm ET today.