After two seasons driving with a Chevrolet power plant, Andretti Autosport driver James Hinchcliffe ran his first laps with Honda’s new twin-turbo engine today during IndyCar testing at Sebring International Raceway.
According to the Canadian, he was “surprised” by the difference.
“It’s really cool to see how the two manufacturers approach things and solutions to certain problems that everyone is going to have,” Hinchcliffe said this morning. “It was a cool experience. For a driver, being part of development is a lot of fun.
“Having spent two years with Chevy, we have some insight that we can bring to the table and we’re obviously learning a lot from the Honda guys as well. Hopefully, pooling all that knowledge together, we can build a good product for the race season.”
Andretti Autosport is one of six Honda teams that are taking part in the Sebring test, which will stretch into tomorrow as well. Also involved is the Chevy-powered Ed Carpenter Racing, with its 2014 road/street course driver, Mike Conway, in the cockpit.
The test is particularly important for the Sam Schmidt camp, which will feature Russian newcomer Mikhail Aleshin next season along potential championship contender Simon Pagenaud (pictured, from this past season).
“There are a lot of items, a lot of experimental things we want to try and hopefully understand what direction they could take us and apply it to the race car in the future,” Pagenaud said of the test.
In addition, the test is also a way to simply keep from getting complacent according to Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing’s Josef Newgarden.
“It’s nice to get a couple days [of testing in], keep everyone flowing well and get the guys back out here working together,” the American said.
“I think it keeps everyone on their toes throughout the off-season. I think there’s a chance to get a little out of rhythm if you’re off the track for too long.”
Outside of Andretti, Schmidt and SFHR, the Honda contingent at Sebring also includes Rahal Letterman Lanigan, Dale Coyne Racing, and A.J. Foyt Racing, which confirmed the return of Takuma Sato to its team yesterday.