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Josef Newgarden to run champion’s No. 1 in 2018

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Newly crowned Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden finished second in his No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet at the season finale in Sonoma in September, a result which was enough to net him the No. 1 position in IndyCar.

Now, following on from his two Team Penske teammates Will Power (2015) and Simon Pagenaud (2017), he’ll also run the champion’s No. 1 in the following season the year after winning his title.

Team Penske confirmed the news today via a fun social media video, where Pagenaud passed off a “champion’s to-do list” as the passing of the torch and champion’s number.

Pagenaud ran the No. 22 his first two years at Team Penske in 2015 and 2016, and would seem likely to go back to that next year – although Newgarden’s No. 2 would be available if desired.

Pagenaud is the best finishing driver with the No. 1 in recent years, coming second to Newgarden last year in the championship standings. Power ran the No. 1 in 2015 and finished third; Ryan Hunter-Reay ran the No. 1 in 2013 and finished seventh. Scott Dixon, the four-time champion, ran the No. 1 only once in his career – in 2004 – and finished 10th.

The last champion who defended his crown with the No. 1 was Sebastien Bourdais, who won the Champ Car title in 2004 as No. 2 and then won three more thereafter in the No. 1 from 2005 through 2007, before Champ Car and IndyCar merged in 2008.

And IndyCar’s last repeat champion is Dario Franchitti, who never ran the No. 1 even though he won four titles. He won in 2007 in IndyCar, then in 2009 through 2011.

How will Newgarden fare running the 1? Only time will tell.

McLaren unveils 2018 F1 car, the MCL33

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McLaren F1 Team became the latest to launch their 2018 challenger on Friday, taking the covers off their new MCL33 chassis early on Friday morning.

McLaren endured a difficult 2017 season of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, with their partnership with Honda eventually dissolving after a troublesome power unit saw them plagued by unreliability and low power.

A switch to Renault power units is expected to see them get an uptick in form, and the MCL33 chassis itself is actually an evolution on last year’s MCL32. Still, the team highlighted areas to improve upon, and aims for a return to prominence in 2018.

“The McLaren team was created by a brave pioneer, and has had bravery at its core ever since. Whether it’s been with brave drivers, brave leaders or brave fortune, this team has always fought back. And we definitely view 2018 as the year when McLaren will move closer to the front, fighting teams and drivers as we improve our fortunes,” said Zak Brown, executive director of McLaren Technology Group.

Brown also highlighted the car’s new papaya orange livery, a throwback to some of the most popular color schemes that have adorned McLaren entrants in a variety of disciplines. Brown indicated that this came about from requests of fans who wanted to see such a livery return to the McLaren marque.

“Our return to a papaya orange livery for this year wasn’t simply an emotional decision; it demonstrates that we are listening to our fans, building deeper engagement with them and the Formula 1 community as a whole. We want McLaren to earn respect on and off the track, and this felt like a good starting point. We want to show everyone what makes this team special, whether that’s our fans or our partners – there’s room for more on our journey.”

The team’s racing director Eric Boullier expressed optimism about the team’s potential for 2018, but also acknowledged the season will be sure to see its fair share of challenges.

“I think the whole team feels proud of this car,” he asserted. “The design, engineering and aerodynamic departments have done an incredible job delivering a new car with a new power unit in an extremely short timeframe. We never took the easy route or looked to shortcut a process or a solution; and the result is a car that is neat and well-resolved.

“That said, we are under no illusions that it will be difficult to splinter the hegemony at the front; and that the midfield will be full of well-funded, experienced outfits with plenty to prove. We are humble about the challenge ahead, but feel we’ve prepared well, have a solid package that we can build upon and exploit as the season progresses, and have two excellent drivers who will make the difference in races.”

The MCL33 took to the track on Friday for filming at a test track in Spain, and will be run in anger for the first time when testing begins next week at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

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