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IndyCar Prix View pre-test notes

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AVONDALE, Ariz. – Over four three-hour blocks of sessions, from 3 to 6 and 8 to 11 p.m. ET (or 1 to 4 and 6 to 9 p.m. MT and local time) both today and tomorrow, the Verizon IndyCar Series will be extra busy banking a boatload of laps at the one-mile Phoenix International Raceway. Streaming is available via racecontrol.indycar.com.

This marks the only full-field open test of the preseason and with reduced team testing in 2017, an important one from a data gathering and chemistry building standpoint.

The season kicks off in St. Petersburg on March 12, and returns to NBCSN in Long Beach April 9.

Among the items to watch:

  • How many Hondas will be able to break through into the top-10 in speeds, and whether any would be achieved by qualifying sims versus race setups
  • Whether Honda has made necessary power unit gains to account for the expected deficiencies in its Road Course/Short Oval (RC/SO) aero kit package compared to Chevrolet, as Honda struggled on these short ovals
  • The progress of Chip Ganassi Racing Teams (Honda) and A.J. Foyt Enterprises (Chevrolet) with their new aero kits and engines
  • The first integration of the crew/strategists swap at Team Penske, for the Nos. 2 (Josef Newgarden) and 12 (Will Power) cars
  • The new drivers with new teams: Newgarden (Penske), JR Hildebrand (Carpenter), Sebastien Bourdais and Ed Jones (Coyne), Conor Daly and Carlos Munoz (Foyt) and Takuma Sato (Andretti)
  • How rookie Jones comes up to pace in his step up from Indy Lights
  • Whether Mikhail Aleshin and Alexander Rossi will take advantage of extra testing at this test they didn’t have last year. Aleshin missed it owing to a visa issue while Rossi had only just been signed, so didn’t have his car set yet
  • How different the track conditions will be from an expected mid-80s high today to about 10 to 15 degrees cooler on Saturday
  • Whether any cars will run in bunches, closer together, or more spread out for primarily single-car runs
  • How weird it is to see Scott Dixon, temporarily anyway, in a blank white firesuit

Kubica, di Resta complete Williams F1 tests in Hungary

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Robert Kubica and Paul di Resta have both completed one-day tests for Williams in a 2014-spec Formula 1 car as part of the team’s evaluation for its 2018 line-up.

Williams is known to be considering a number of drivers to partner Lance Stroll at the team next year, including existing racer Felipe Massa.

Massa is thought to be going up against Kubica and di Resta for the 2018 drive, with the latter duo taking part in a private test at the Hungaroring in Budapest this week to aid the team’s evaluation.

After missing out on a 2018 Renault drive due to lingering questions about his physical condition six years after his rally accident, Kubica tested for Williams at Silverstone last week before getting back behind the wheel of the 2014 FW36 car in Hungary on Tuesday.

Kubica’s test was called “productive” by Williams, with the Pole handing duties over to Mercedes DTM racer di Resta on Wednesday.

Di Resta raced in F1 with Force India between 2010 and 2013 before returning to DTM, but made a surprise return at this year’s Hungarian Grand Prix with Williams when Massa was taken ill. Di Resta impressed on short notice, putting himself in contention for a full-time return to F1 in 2018.

Williams has one of the few remaining seats on offer in F1 for 2018, with Massa’s future known to be in question after a quiet campaign thus far.

The Brazilian had been due to retire from F1 at the end of last year, only for Williams to recall him after Valtteri Bottas’ late move up to Mercedes following Nico Rosberg’s surprise retirement.

Massa has made clear he would like to keep racing in F1 next year, but only if the deal is right and if Williams is determined to keep him.

While Massa, Kubica and di Resta appear to be the three leading contenders for the seat, Williams technical chief Paddy Lowe made clear in Japan there was a “large range” of drivers under consideration.

“You’ve probably seen a number of names that are floating around that we’re looking at, but honestly, the range is almost unlimited,” Lowe said.

“We will consider all ideas. We’re not in a super hurry to do so, and we’ll just make sure we land the best line-up we can.”