Pirelli confirms in-season testing schedule

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Pirelli has confirmed its in-season testing schedule for the coming year as teams give up one day of their own track time in order to work with the Italian tire supplier.

Following the testgate scandal that unfurled last May – where Mercedes was adjudged to have wrongly completed 1000km of testing despite there being a ban on it – it was written into the new regulations that teams could work with Pirelli on an official basis during the year.

Further to that, scheduled in-season testing has returned, with events planned following the races in Bahrain, Spain, Great Britain and Abu Dhabi. Therefore, each team will use one day from each test to work with Pirelli on its tire compounds.

Pirelli’s testing programme is as follows:

Bahrain
April 8 – Caterham
April 9 – Mercedes and Williams

Spain
May 13 – Sauber and Toro Rosso
May 14 – McLaren and Force India

Great Britain
July 8 – Ferrari and Lotus
July 9 – Red Bull and Marussia

Abu Dhabi
November 25 – 2015 tire testing
November 26 – 2015 tire testing

With an official testing calendar in place, there should be no repeat of the scandal that emerged at Monaco last year when Mercedes’ actions were revealed. Further to that – and more importantly – Pirelli will be able to get as much information as possible about the 2014 tire compounds, meaning that problems such as the multiple tire blow-outs at the British Grand Prix last June should be avoided this time around.

Teammates James Hinchcliffe and Robert Wickens earn top-fives at Barber

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For the first time this season, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammates James Hinchcilffe and Robert Wickens earned top-five finishes in the same race at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.

Hinchcliffe finished third in the Grand Prix of Alabama; Wickens was one spot behind in fourth.

Wickens had one previous podium at Phoenix with his second-place finish. Hinchcliffe’s best result was a fourth in the season-opener in St Petersburg, Fla., so this marked his first podium of the year.

Both drivers needed a little help from the rain.

As precipitation began to fall in the closing stages of the race, Hinchliffe asked his team on a couple of occasions if it was wet enough to pit for rain tires. He was told twice to stay out and was then called into to the pits at the optimal time.

“Solid weekend for us after coming here before – not a great test,” Hinchcliffe said. “Two cars in the top 10 qualifying; two cars, top five in the race. Pretty proud of these boys, everybody on the Arrow car.”

The rain helped Wickens’ race strategy come together.

“I was having to save a lot of fuel in that second stint,” Wickens said. “So once (Scott) Dixon starting getting close to me I was thinking ‘Oh God, I’m going to actually have to give this one up.’ And then the rain came, so the fuel mileage happened naturally. So, yeah, it saved us a bit.”

And while both were pleased with their top-five finishes, drivers are rarely satisfied unless they are standing on the top step of the podium.

Wickens’ top-five finish was hard-fought. After winning the pole at St Petersburg and starting sixth at Phoenix, he failed to advance to the Fast 6 in back-to-back races at Long Beach and Barber – qualifying 10th both times.

“I was a little gutted that we came out in a big bunch of traffic,” Wickens continued. “It made the race fun, but a little frustrating as well because of people off sequence and whatnot. We lost a lot of track position there. Both of us could have been fighting for higher steps on the podium, but we need to do a little better job in qualifying. “