New Indy Lights car performs first full test day at Mid-Ohio (VIDEO)

1 Comment

Following a shakedown at Putnam Park in Indiana last week by Conor Daly (see below), the new Dallara IL15 Indy Lights car had its first proper run Monday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Daly was slated to drive once more on Monday but had to leave due to a sponsor commitment in Miami.

That left testing duties to Tristan Vautier, the 2013 Verizon IndyCar Series Rookie-of-the-Year, who’s been busy between Road To Indy TV work, Mazda LMP2 prototype racing and sports car racing this season.

Vautier got out early and began cranking off laps. Here was his pace after early runs:

The Frenchman put the new car through its paces and by the end of the day after 85 laps, got down to an unofficial best lap of 1:13.4 around the 2.258-mile road course, a time already half a second better than the pole time for this weekend’s pair of Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires races.

Here’s Vautier’s recap of the day, to Anders Krohn for R2ITV – Krohn is also the analyst for NBCSN’s Indy Lights race coverage.

Interest and discussion was high regarding the new Indy Lights chassis this weekend; the road course version of the car arrived on Sunday while the oval version show car was on display all weekend.

MotorSportsTalk has learned of at least one potential new entrant to the series, and potentially a current team on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder looking to purchase the new chassis. No formal announcement has been made by Andersen Promotions – the series promoters – regarding the number of chassis sold or number of teams interested.

But I did speak to Daly during the weekend, who hailed the car’s pace and ability. Here was Daly’s video of the car going past:

“This thing has a proper turbo sound and feel to it,” Daly said. “It’s going to be really cool to see how this car develops.”

Indeed along with the other news and notes on the IndyCar side, following the Indy Lights car and silly season development this winter is also going to be interesting to watch.

F1 2017 driver review: Esteban Ocon

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Esteban Ocon

Team: Sahara Force India
Car No.: 31
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P5 (Spain, Mexico)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 87
Championship Position: 8th

A shining star in Mercedes’ junior programme, Esteban Ocon vaulted fellow youngster Pascal Wehrlein in the pecking order to secure a seat at Force India for 2017 – and boy, did he live up to the hype.

Ocon arrived at Force India with half a season of racing under his belt after his outings with Manor late in 2016, but wasted little time in settling in, scoring points on debut in Australia after winning a thrilling three-way fight with Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso.

The Frenchman spent much of the year close to teammate Sergio Perez – even if things did get a little too close in Canada, Baku and, finally, Spa, prompting the team to introduce team orders – and impressed the entire paddock with his displays.

While no podium was forthcoming, Ocon was often leading the midfield fight, enjoying three straight finishes ahead of Perez from Japan to Mexico. Given how well Perez is rated on-track in the paddock, to have convincingly beaten him in such fashion did a lot for Ocon’s reputation.

The term ‘Oconsistency’ also came into F1’s dictionary as he set a new record for consecutive finishes from his first race, with his retirement in Brazil ending the streak at 27 grands prix. It was also his first retirement in a single-seater race since the 2014 Macau Grand Prix.

The highlight moment arguably came at Monza, though, when Ocon stuck his Force India third on the grid through torrential rain in qualifying. While he would drop to P6 at the checkered flag, the display nevertheless cemented his place as one of F1’s rising stars.

Mercedes rates Ocon very highly, and with Valtteri Bottas’ future beyond 2018 already being questioned by the paddock, a good season could see the youngster move on up to the top table of F1 for 2019. His progression in the next 12 months will be fascinating to keep track of.

Season High: Lining up P3 on the grid at Monza after a rainy qualifying.

Season Low: Clashing with Perez in Baku, costing Force India a possible podium.