IndyCar: Jack Hawksworth ready to go full-throttle for Foyt

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For several years, A.J. Foyt Racing’s Takuma Sato has espoused the philosophy of “No Attack, No Chance.”

So it’s fitting that his new teammate, second-year pilot Jack Hawksworth, shares that same philosophy.

“That’s what we’re in it for, right? We’re in it to win,” Hawksworth said today after it was announced that he’d join the Foyt camp as a second full-time driver for the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

“Takuma is going to go flat out and try and win, and so am I. That’s what the whole team’s here to do. We’re here to win, to give 120%. If on the day, that’s enough, fantastic. If not, we’ll keep trying. I think that’s the only way to go racing really.”

With a pair of gassers like Sato and Hawksworth, there’s the potential for fireworks in both a good and a bad way.

But A.J., the four-time Indianapolis 500 champion that’s set to field his first (full-time) two-car lineup in more than a decade, only has a few directives for his new duo.

“The way I look at racing, if you can’t have a lot of fun in racing, you shouldn’t be in it,” he said. “I still look at it – you always want to win but you also have a lot of fun. That’s the way I look at a two-car team.

“I want them to run each other as hard as they can, but don’t take each other out. There will be a day when one of them will be a little better than the other one, and that’s why they call it racing.”

Hawksworth is coming off a freshman season in which he put on several impressive displays driving the No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport entry.

Chief among them was a podium during Race 2 of the Houston doubleheader, in which he charged from 23rd on the starting grid to a third-place finish. He was also particularly stout in the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis, leading 31 laps from the front row before finishing seventh.

Now, in year two, Hawksworth gets to have an opportunity to pair up with Sato, who of course carries extensive experience and can be of great assistance in the young Brit’s evolution as an IndyCar driver.

“Jack and I [weren’t] necessarily racing together in ’14, but we get on really close on track, off track as well,” Sato said. “I’m really, really looking forward to working with him. That’s a perfect combination for the team I think.”

Just as important for Hawksworth, he’ll have the chance to enjoy more resources than he was able to with the single-car BHA group.

“We’re going to get twice as much telemetry, twice as much data than if it was a single-car team,” he said. “I only see good things from it…The thing at the moment, with these race weekends, the ovals, the street and road courses, there’s so little practice time. If you have two cars out there running, you can try different things, different approaches in the practice sessions.

“Hopefully at the end of the day, you put all of that together from both cars, then you take a significant step forward.”

Also in Hawksworth’s corner will be chief engineer Raul Prados, who worked his way through various European series including GP2 before joining the Foyt camp in 2012.

In 2013, Prados started working full-time under Sato’s engineer, Don Halliday, and this past season, he became a chief engineer himself on the No. 41 Foyt entry for Martin Plowman in the GP of Indy and the Indianapolis 500.

“We’ve been in contact,” Hawksworth said of the Spaniard. “It’s early days. But it was quite clear immediately we had a good chemistry, a good connection.

“I think once we get testing and he’s able to, I guess, understand what I want from the car, hopefully I can give him the right information. Hopefully, once we get into the season, we’re all singing off the same hymn sheet and we can go kick some ass.”

Previous F1 competition doesn’t guarantee IndyCar success at COTA

Manor F1 Photo
Manor F1 Photo
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AUSTIN, Texas – Familiarity does not breed success, according to three NTT IndyCar Series drivers who have previous experience at Circuit of the Americas in the Formula One United States Grand Prix. Several other drivers, including IndyCar Series rookie Patricio O’Ward, competed in the LMPC IMSA race in 2017.

Although the course is the same – 20-turns and 3.41-miles – the cars are completely different. The highly-advanced, technologically-driven Formula One cars are advanced beyond the realm of anything allowed in the NTT IndyCar Series. It’s more about the driver in IndyCar, which uses an impressive, but simpler formula to help showcase driver skill more than technology in its races.

Money buys speed in Formula One, but an IndyCar team doesn’t need a $400 million budget to go racing. It can get by on $5 millions to $10 million a year and contend for plenty of race victories and championships.

Andretti Autosport star Alexander Rossi drove in five Formula One races with Manor in 2015. The above photo is from his only F1 contest at COTA that season. He was the first driver ever to turn laps at COTA shortly after it was constructed in 2012.

Rossi had his best F1 finish in the 2015 United States Grand Prix when he started 17thand finished 12th.

“When I’ve come here in the past, I came into the weekend fully knowing that there was no chance to ever really do anything from a results perspective,” Rossi said. “To could come here to a track that I’ve spent a lot of time at, not necessarily driven a whole lot, but spent a huge amount of time at. To come into this weekend’s race, competing on a level where we have as good a shot as any, to win the race would be pretty cool.

“There’s kind of an almost unfinished business box that we’d like to tick here in some way. I’m very excited to get the weekend started.”

Chilton raced the entire F1 season in 2013 and 2014 with Marussia. He started 21stand finished 21stin 2013. He started in the first 16 races during the 2014 F1 season but was out of a ride by the time F1 arrived at COTA that season.

Me and Alex probably had pretty similar experiences,” Chilton told NBC Sports.com “Obviously the more laps are better — but the car we were in, we weren’t doing much racing, so the sort of racing experience part isn’t going to help.

“It’s good to be back. I first came here in 2013 for the (United States) Grand Prix. I loved the track. I love the city. I really enjoyed the whole facility, the race track. It’s a pretty long track in an Indy car but it’s got lots of overtaking potential for us and hopefully we’ll put on a great show.

“It’s great to have an English band like Muse on Saturday night, as well.”

Marcus Ericsson of Sweden has the most experience at COTA of any driver in the field for Sunday’s INDYCAR Classic. He competed in 97 F1 contests from 2014-2018 before becoming an IndyCar rookie with Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports this season.

Ericsson was 15thin 2015, 14thin 2016, 15thin 2017 and 10thin last year’s USGP.

“I’ve been here quite a few times,” Ericsson said. “It’s one of the best tracks on F1 and I think it’s great we are going here with INDYCAR. It’s going to be a great weekend.

“The racing should be very good. It’s already good on F1 on this track and from what I’ve done in INDYCAR, it’s going to be a really good show from everyone and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Ericsson emphasized that the his F1 experience does not necessarily give him any type of advantage in an IndyCar.

“I think for me I was here a couple months ago in F1 doing the race in ’18. I had all my reference points and then I did the first run and realized that didn’t really work,” Ericsson explained to NBC Sports.com “So I don’t know that the experience — it’s good to know the track, but then the Indy cars are very different cars to the F1 (car) so you have to sort of drive it quite differently and in the end, I think it didn’t really help the maximum amount in my opinion.

“The problem is we had two days of testing already in IndyCar. If we had come here straightaway without any testing it would be an advantage of one hundredth approximate. But now, if you don’t get the track in two days, I don’t think you would be in IndyCar.

“I don’t think it’s a big advantage now going into the weekend.”

But every little bit helps and if all of those little “bits” of information are added up, previous experience can provide a benefit in the race.

“For sure there’s things I can bring from my experience there that helps in INDYCAR, but the Indy car to drive today is different than the Formula One cars with the power steering and everything,” Ericsson continued. “I think it’s two different cars and what I found here on the test; things that worked in the F1 car didn’t really work in the Indy car. I think both cars of very difficult to be fast in but in different ways.

“For sure my experience in F1, it’s helped me to get into INDYCAR.”

James Hinchcliffe, who has never driven in Formula One, or at COTA, believes he has the best experience of any driver in Austin this weekend.

“I know where the restaurants are, so that’s cool,” Hinchcliffe said.