IndyCar: Gabby Chaves gets a crucial second test, this time with BHA

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Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires champion Gabby Chaves will have his second run in an IndyCar when he tests for Bryan Herta Autosport on December 17 at Sebring International Raceway.

Chaves enters the test fresh off a win in the Six Hours of Bogota sports car race in Colombia – more here from IndyCar.com.

The Colombian American had his first go for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports also in Florida, at the Homestead-Miami Speedway road course in September.

Chaves was pleased with his efforts at the time, as he said “it didn’t feel like his first time” in an IndyCar. Additionally, his efforts really pleased SPM team manager Rob Edwards.

“I was happy we could give Gabby an opportunity,” Edwards told MotorSportsTalk when SPM announced James Hinchcliffe’s signing at Flat 12 Bierworks in Indianapolis in October.

“We ran him in Lights 2013. I thought it was interesting running him. Him having two years in Lights definitely benefitted him.

“With his level of maturity, and his approach to the whole test, he’s deserving of an opportunity in a big car for sure.”

This will be an important test for Chaves because both BHA and SPM have a seat open for 2015. BHA has its single car to fill and SPM’s second seat is open alongside Hinchcliffe.

While Chaves will have $750,000 in scholarship funding to bring to a team after winning the title on the highest rung of the Mazda Road to Indy ladder, that’s not necessarily a guarantee of a full-time seat in the championship.

Witness Chaves’ ex-SPM Lights teammate Sage Karam being unable to put together a full-season program for 2014, although he was able to debut strongly at the Indianapolis 500.

Chaves said after winning the Indy Lights title he’ll do the Indianapolis 500 for sure, with other races to be determined depending, as always, on funding.

However Chaves’ path is already starting to look similar to Jack Hawksworth’s, who was in a similar position last year, and that’s a good thing.

The lanky Englishman – and another of Chaves’ 2013 SPM Indy Lights teammates – had tests for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Dale Coyne Racing in similar time frames (September and December 2013), before a last-minute surprise test with Herta’s team in the spring led to his shot there.

As we saw this season, Hawksworth overachieved on a single-car team and was able to move on after one season, from BHA into a second seat with A.J. Foyt Enterprises.

Chaves beat Hawksworth head-to-head that Indy Lights season in 2013, finishing only behind Karam, and is next up on the list of drivers deserving of an IndyCar opportunity.

One other thing to note – Chaves will be testing a day after SPM tries out Italian Davide Valsecchi does on the same course. Times won’t be official, but it will be very intriguing to watch how both potential rookies fare in their outings.

It’s a bit like Grapefruit League spring training in baseball, except in winter, since it’s a case of young talent seeing if they can break into the big leagues.

Sergio Perez wins rain-delayed race in Singapore over Leclerc; Verstappen seventh

Sergio Perez Singapore
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SINGAPORE — Max Verstappen’s Formula One title celebrations were put on hold after the Red Bull driver placed seventh at a chaotic Singapore Grand Prix, won by his teammate Sergio Perez on Sunday.

Perez’s second win of the season saw him finish 7.6 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, with Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. in third place.

Perez was investigated for a potential safety car infringement but still kept the win after a 5-second time penalty for dropping too far back after being warned.

Verstappen had won the past five races but needed to win here and finish 22 points ahead of Leclerc to be crowned champion for a second straight season. That could happen next weekend at the Japanese GP.

Verstappen made a mistake after the second safety car restart, following AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda’s crash on Lap 36. When Verstappen tried to overtake Lando Norris’ McLaren, he locked his tires and needed to pit again.

Leclerc started from pole position with Verstappen going from eighth after a team blunder in qualifying.

The race start was delayed by more than an hour to clear water off the Marina Bay Circuit track following heavy rainfall. Drivers had to finish the 61-lap race within a two-hour window; 59 laps were completed.

Tricky conditions saw the virtual safety car deployed three times and DRS was allowed with about 30 minutes remaining.

Perez made a good start and jumped past Leclerc while Verstappen dropped several places. The first safety car was on Lap 8 when Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo was cut off by Nicholas Latifi’s Williams.

Perez got away cleanly at the restart, while Verstappen climbed into seventh behind Fernando Alonso – whose 350th F1 race ended disappointingly when his engine failed on Lap 21, bringing out the first VSC.

With the track still damp, drivers decided against changing to quicker tires – apart from Mercedes’ George Russell, who struggled for grip.

Hamilton made a rare mistake on Lap 33 and thudded into the crash barrier. Soon after, the leading drivers changed tires in a flurry of stops. They did so just before the safety car was deployed again following Tsunoda’s error.

Verstappen overtook Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin right at the end for seventh place.