Szafnauer: First test focused on tires, Wehrlein evaluation


Even though Force India was testing its 2014 chassis last week at Barcelona, there was still plenty for the team to learn.

The focus primarily centered on dialing in Pirelli’s 2015 tires, said Otmar Szafnauer, Force India’s COO.

“It was a straightforward and productive week, with the primary focus to learn about the 2015 tires,” he said in a team release.

“Because we know the 2014 car so well, we could focus purely on tire evaluation on a range of different fuel loads. We used every dry compound that was available last week and all of that information will be transferrable to our 2015 program.”

The team has officially taken the wraps off its new VJM08 chassis Wednesday morning and preps to run it for the first time on Friday.

Last week’s test also allowed the team a look at Mercedes reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein for two days.

Wehrlein’s first day was interrupted when Mercedes called him up to fill in for an ill Lewis Hamilton on Thursday, but he had a full day in the car Saturday to provide the team an evaluation.

“Everyone was impressed with Pascal,” Szafnauer said. “He took a very mature approach to the test and didn’t put a foot wrong.

“It’s always interesting to receive feedback from a new driver and Pascal was very detailed and accurate with his feedback. Running him alongside our race drivers provided a nice yardstick for data comparisons.”

It’s only February so it’s a bit too early to think ahead to the 2016 silly season, but depending on how Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg either get on or advance in 2015, Wehrlein will probably be a name we’ll hear in the silly season talks later this year.

NEOM McLaren Formula E announces Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast for 2023 season

McLaren Formula E Hughes
McLaren Racing

Doubling down on their commitment to electric auto sports, McLaren Racing announced Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast to compete in the 2023 Formula E Series (FE), which completes their driver lineup.

The NEOM McLaren FE team was formed by the acquisition of the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team that won the 2021 and 2022 championships with Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries behind the wheel.

“Today’s announcement feels like a long time coming,” said Ian James, managing director of NEOM McLaren Electric Racing in a release. “Since May this year, when we first announced McLaren Racing’s entry into Formula E, we have been working tirelessly to get in place the best possible team and structure for sustainable success.

“On the one hand, we have been working on the retention of the amazing talent that already was in place before going into the transitional phase. I’m proud to say I think we’ve done a great job on that front.

“On the other hand, we have been focusing on putting in place new processes and new talent – and the latter includes the drivers.”

The driver lineup clasps the two hands together.

Hughes brings 10 years racing experience in single seater cars, including a role with the acquired Mercedes-EQ team as a reserve and development driver for the past two seasons. He is the 2013 BRDC Formula 4 champion and has multiple wins in Formula 2, including two in 2020.

Announced in August, Rast joins the team after earning two podium finishes and six top-fives in 22 career Formula E starts for Audi Sport ABT before returning to the DTM Series last year. Rast’s best finish in Formula E came in the Puebla E Prix when he finished second to teammate Lucas di Grassi by less than a half second.

McLaren’s commitment to Formula E comes one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour in the driver lineup. After a modest start to the season, the McLaren XE drivers crossed the finish line first in Round 4 in Chile, but were assessed a time penalty that dropped them to fifth. Last week in the season finale in Uruguay, they held onto a hard-earned second place finish.