Wehrlein relishing further test opportunities with Force India

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Pascal Wehrlein was pleased with his running during F1 pre-season testing in Barcelona this week, and hopes that it will lead to further opportunities with Force India across the course of the season.

Wehrlein, 20, joined Mercedes AMG Petronas as its reserve driver last autumn and enjoyed his first run in a Formula 1 car at the end of season test in Abu Dhabi.

It was confirmed earlier this week that Wehrlein would be testing for Force India in Barcelona, receiving two days of running. He was also drafted in to run for parent team Mercedes on Thursday when Lewis Hamilton came down with a fever, forcing him to sit out.

Speaking after his final run on Saturday, Wehrlein said that he enjoyed the experienced and learned plenty over his two days of testing.

“It was great to be back in the car after a surprising Thursday and this turned out to be another great day,” he said. “When you get into a completely different car to what you are used to, everything is new, from how the car feels to the buttons and dials on the steering wheel.

“Having had the experience on Thursday really helped me with this, I learnt a lot in these two days and that made a difference for me. The team did really help me settle in my role. Everyone welcomed me from the start and made it really easy to work.

“The atmosphere is great. Today’s work was very focused on set-up and we even managed to include a longer run. It was a good day’s work and I am looking forward for more opportunities in the future.”

Wehrlein will also test for Force India at the two in-season tests in Spain and Austria this year, and will be hoping to continue his good pre-season form as he goes in search of a full-time F1 seat in the future.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).