Reports: Wehrlein poised for Barcelona test run with Force India

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Mercedes reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein (pictured with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg) is set to take part in the upcoming pre-season F1 test for Force India, according to reports in the German media.

Wehrlein, 20, joined the constructors’ champions in 2014 as a reserve driver, balancing the role with his commitments in the DTM championship.

With F1 testing limited nowadays, Wehrlein’s first run in the Mercedes W05 Hybrid came at the end-of-year test in Abu Dhabi last November. However, he put in an impressive display to post the fastest time of the two-day test, beating Valtteri Bottas and Raffaele Marciello.

Wehrlein could be set to get some more F1 testing under his belt next week, with German publications F1-Insider and Motorsport Total reporting that he will conduct running for Force India in Barcelona.

F1-Insider’s report suggests that Wehrlein is being used as a makeweight by Mercedes as it has not received its payment from Force India for its power unit supply.

Force India’s recent struggles have been well documented, with the team missing the first test in Jerez completely. It will be testing in Barcelona next week, albeit with the 2014 car, before introducing the new VJM08 in the final pre-season test at the end of February.

For Wehrlein, this presents a great opportunity for him to show the onlooking F1 paddock what he can do behind the wheel of a current car, and it is unlikely to be his last test of the year.

Wehrlein will continue to race in the DTM series this year for Mercedes, having claimed his first win in the touring car championship at the Lausitzring in 2014.

Andretti Autosport picks James Hinchcliffe for last 3 races of season

Andretti Autosport James Hinchcliffe
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James Hinchcliffe will finish the NTT IndyCar Series season for Andretti Autosport, replacing Zach Veach in the No. 26 Dallara-Honda.

The team made the announcement Friday afternoon that Hinchcliffe will return after racing for Andretti at Texas Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Indianapolis 500.

Hinchcliffe, who also has worked as an IndyCar on NBC analyst and pit reporter, will race in the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida.

“It’s always unfortunate to have to change drivers this far into a season, but we have to look at finishing the year the best we can for the 26 team and start evaluating and looking at options for 2021,” team owner Michael Andretti said in a release. “James has an existing relationship with our team that we’d love to build on and it makes the most sense for him to step in for these last three races. We are looking forward to seeing what he can do.”

Hinchcliffe has a season-best finish of seventh in the Indy 500. He had been working on trying to put together a deal for next season after scrambling to secure a partial schedule this year when he lost his ride at Arrow McLaren SP after 2020 with a year left on his deal.

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“I know, probably better than most, what Zach is feeling right now, and I have to say that he has handled everything about as class act as you can,” Hinchcliffe said. “I’ve known Zach as a teammate, before that as a colleague and even before that as a friend, and he is a guy that I respect in every way. I know he is a fighter and will fight back to where he wants to be.

“For me now, my focus is 100% on racing the Harvest GP and getting the best possible results for Gainbridge, for Honda, for Michael and for the team. I obviously haven’t been on a road course in a while, but at least the last time I was, it was here at IMS! Hopefully that puts us in a good position to go out there and have a strong weekend.”