Indy Lights notes: Juncos leads oval test, Chilton digs ovals, Piedrahita confirmed

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There have been several Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires bits of news over the last week. Here were the recaps of road course testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway (day one, day two), but oval testing followed on Thursday.

JUNCOS LEADS OVAL TESTING

Juncos Racing led a tightly packed timesheets in the Indy Lights’ first official oval test day on the HMS 1.5-mile oval, converted to its normal layout rather than the road course. Nine tenths of a second covered the 11-car field, even as the teams experimented with different setups.

Kyle Kaiser and Spencer Pigot – Juncos’ pair of rookies – led the combined lap times with Kaiser posting a best lap of 188.851 mph.

“The team continues to demonstrate their ability to adapt to this new car,” Kaiser said. “It’s still early and there is a lot of work ahead, but we are making steady progress. It was my first time driving on an oval at this speed and the team gave me the perfect car to make the transition seamless. I’m looking forward to NOLA in a few weeks to continue our development.”

Times are linked here.

CHILTON, CARLIN WELCOMED – AND THEY DIG OVALS

Max Chilton’s presence at the test this week was something of a big deal. The former Marussia F1 driver is a relative big fish in a small pond in the Lights field, and with he and Carlin Racing present, it adds two further degrees of legitimacy to the championship.

Chilton spoke highly of the experience and posted a couple tweets from his opening oval experience.

Team boss Trevor Carlin praised the American culture after a successful first week of testing for both Chilton and the team’s first confirmed driver, Ed Jones.

SCHMIDT PRAISES ANDERSON AFTER HIS FIRST SPM TEST

Scott Anderson missed the Palm Beach test while news of his deal with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports was yet to be confirmed. But Homestead marked his first week on board, and his presence solidified SPM’s effort for 2015.

“Testing is even more productive now that to our Indy Lights team is solidified,” SPM co-owner Sam Schmidt said. “Scott Anderson completing our driver lineup is helpful because he can contribute and adds another voice to the equation. We’ve put the pieces of the puzzle in place, which now allows us to focus on racing.”

PIEDRAHITA OFFICIALLY CONFIRMED

Belardi Auto Racing confirmed Juan Piedrahita last week as second driver alongside Felix Serralles. The Colombian raced with SPM in 2014, and also has past experience on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder in both Pro Mazda and USF2000.

“I’m very grateful that Brian Belardi has given me this opportunity, and it looks like I have some big shoes to fill, those of my friend, Gabby Chaves,” Piedrahita said. “In regards to the new Dallara, I can’t wait to drive it. The new car is very similar to the DW12 and it will help us in preparation for the next step.”

Piedrahita tested on both the road course and oval last week, although 2012 Indy Lights champion Tristan Vautier filled in for a day on the second day on the road course to help evaluate the team’s progress. While Piedrahita is a veteran, Serralles will be a rookie in 2015.

Sergio Perez still has coronavirus; will miss second consecutive F1 race

F1 Sergio Perez out
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SILVERSTONE, England — Sergio Perez will be out for a second F1 race at Silverstone this week after again testing positive for the coronavirus.

The Mexican driver had hoped to return to Formula One after spending seven days in quarantine, but his Racing Point team said this morning he had tested positive.

“He is physically well and recovering,” the team said. “The whole team wishes Sergio and his family well and we look forward to his return.”

That means German veteran Nico Hulkenberg again fills in for Sunday’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix after having also replaced Sergio Perez when he was out for the F1 British Grand Prix at the same venue last week. Hulkenberg did not start that race because of an engine problem.

There are two consecutive weekends of racing at Silverstone as Formula One tries to pack in races following the pandemic-delayed start to the season.

Perez became the first Formula One driver to test positive for coronavirus, and it had been unclear whether he would be available to drive after the period of quarantine was extended to 10 days.

Racing Point also was in the news Friday after being hit with a 15-point penalty in the Formula One constructors’ championship and fined 400,000 euros ($470,000) Friday for using brake ducts based on those from last year’s Mercedes cars.

The stewards ruled that Mercedes was the “principal designer” of the parts, and that Racing Point made only minor changes to computer design data it received from Mercedes.

Rival team Renault filed protests about the legality of the brake ducts, which were added to the “listed parts” under F1 rules for 2020. That means teams must design their own. Racing Point argued it was merely using information about the Mercedes parts to inform its own design.

Racing Point uses customer engines from Mercedes and has admitted basing its 2020 car design on photographs of last year’s Mercedes car. The similarities led to the Racing Point being nicknamed the “pink Mercedes” when it was first seen in testing ahead of the season.

Racing Point can appeal the ruling. The points deduction drops the team from fifth to sixth in the standings, below Renault. The ruling doesn’t affect the points totals for Racing Point’s drivers.