IndyCar drivers give Watkins Glen rave reviews for upcoming return

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It’s still two and a half months until the Verizon IndyCar Series returns to race at Watkins Glen International for the first time since 2010.

But drivers are already anticipating and getting excited about the Labor Day weekend event, which was relocated to WGI on incredibly short notice after the planned inaugural event scheduled for the same weekend in Boston was cancelled due to public protest.

IndyCar drivers checked in in a video, following a one-day Firestone tire test at Watkins Glen on Monday. The five drivers that tested were James Hinchcliffe, Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Alexander Rossi.

“From what we’ve heard, everyone’s going a whole lot faster and that’s going to be exciting for us, it’s going to be physical,” said Hinchcliffe. “It’s going to be massively challenging. “The last time we were there with the old car it was already a pretty quick track.”

“This car is already a ton faster (from cars back in 2010),” Hinchcliffe added. “Now you’ve repaved (the track) and added another couple seconds off the lap time. It’s going to be a hell of show.”

See the below visor cam INDYCAR assembled from Hinchcliffe.

Indy cars have raced only nine total times at WGI. CART raced there for just three years (1979-81), and then IndyCar was a staple there for six years (2005-2010).

Dixon won the first three IndyCar races at WGI (2005-07), followed by Ryan Hunter-Reay (2008), the late Justin Wilson (2009) and Will Power (2010).

“Watkins Glen just went through a resealing or repave,” Dixon said. “I expect it to be as fast as hell. It’s going to be extremely fast.

“But the cool thing with the Glen, you can trim out some, too, with the uphill climb to the back straight and the bus stop. There’s definitely some different configurations that you can run as far as aero.”

Drivers felt the day at the track was much more than just a test.

“For the most part it’s a tire test to figure out a few things there,” Dixon said. “But, yeah, really excited to get back to the Glen. Obviously a favorite of mine. The goal is to obviously have a great day testing and go back and try to contend for a race win.”

Added Pagenaud, “I was actually surprised. I heard that it’s really fast and really smooth. Probably the smoothest race track we’re going to go to. Certainly, that will direct the way we want to set the car up and it will be important to go to the gym to get ready for that one.”

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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.