Mixed race for Mexican duo in home Grand Prix (VIDEO)

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Neither Sergio Perez nor Esteban Gutierrez enjoyed the Mexican Grand Prix they would have preferred, but still managed to excite their home crowd at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

Perez spent most of his race stuck behind the Williams duo of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa, and with the top-end advantage of the cars in front of him, Perez was unable to get by.

The Sahara Force India driver eventually ended in 10th place, to keep his streak of consecutive points finishes alive to eight races and counting since the German Grand Prix in July.

“We knew before race, if there was one car we didn’t want to be fighting with, for position, it was a Williams,” Perez told NBCSN after the race. “We struggled a lot behind them. It was difficult to get them. We just spent the whole race behind. Nothing I could do to get them.”

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - OCTOBER 30:  Sergio Perez of Mexico and Force India waves to the crowd on the drivers parade before the Formula One Grand Prix of Mexico at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on October 30, 2016 in Mexico City, Mexico.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – OCTOBER 30: Sergio Perez of Mexico and Force India waves to the crowd on the drivers parade before the Formula One Grand Prix of Mexico at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on October 30, 2016 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Gutierrez’ race was less fruitful, starting 17th and finishing 19th on a weekend where Haas F1 Team struggled for performance from the off.

Gutierrez made it up to 12th early following a battle with Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button, and after surviving once Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson had collided. But despite switching late from mediums to softs, he was unable to make up ground to the finish.

“It was a difficult race. We had to take care a lot of the brakes. Braked almost 200m before. It wasn’t ideal,” Gutierrez told NBCSN.

But on the whole, Gutierrez was still pleased to take part in his first of what he hopes will be several home races.

“It was a very special, emotional moment in my career,” he added. “I am confident I will be back. We’re pushing all the way and we’ll find out more in the next two weeks.

“I wish we could have been able to deliver something better this weekend but, unfortunately, we were not able to this time. However, it was an amazing weekend – racing in my home country in front of all the Mexican people – and I really want to thank them because they’ve really made it a race to remember.”

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – OCTOBER 30: Esteban Gutierrez of Mexico and Haas F1 on the drivers parade before the Formula One Grand Prix of Mexico at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on October 30, 2016 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

Latest INDYCAR Aeroscreen test continues to provide feedback; data to series

Bruce Martin Photo
Bruce Martin Photo
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RICHMOND, Virginia – After completing its third Aeroscreen test since October 2, INDYCAR continues to collect valuable data and feedback from the drivers and engineers involved in testing.

The latest test of the Aeroscreen came Tuesday, October 15 at Richmond Raceway, a .750-mile short oval. Five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon has been involved in testing dating all the way back to 2017 at Phoenix with the original “Windscreen.” Tuesday’s test was the first-time two-time NTT IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden was able to test the device that partially encloses the cockpit proving greatly enhanced driver safety.

It was also the first time the current “Aeroscreen” designed and created by Red Bull Advanced Technologies, Pankl and Dallara has been tested at a short oval – a track that measures under 1.5-miles in length.

The previous tests were at the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway on October 2 and the Barber Motorsports Park road course on October 7.

“It wasn’t a problem getting in the car today and relearning a new viewpoint,” Newgarden told NBC Sports.com at the conclusion of Tuesday’s test. “It felt like a new viewpoint. It’s still an Indy car. It still feels like an Indy car. The car does a lot of the things it did before. It required some slight tuning differences to accommodate a different center of gravity and different total weight.

“Overall, it still felt like the same Indy car I drove three weeks ago. You get used to that new viewpoint within 30 or 40 laps. It was alien at first but halfway through the day it feels like home again.”

Newgarden’s Team Penske test team along with INDYCAR officials worked on changes to getting air into the cockpit and directing the air to the right place where the driver can utilize it.

“We’ve come up with some solutions that we like,” Newgarden said. “INDYCAR and the teams will continue to fine-tune this. That is why we are doing these tests. The main goal was to figure this out and fine-tune this stuff. We have come up with a lot of good solutions to all of the little things we have talked about that we have needed so when Sebastien Bourdais goes to Sebring (on November 5), it will just be another version.

“We are already close. Because they are such small details, it feels like normal racing stuff and we will come up with solutions for that.”

Some drivers who have participated in the Aeroscreen test has said, they almost feel naked without having the halo-like structure with a clear windshield protecting them on the race car.

“Once we got through a whole IndyCar season, if you took it off, it would feel really strange,” Newgarden said. “People adapt so quickly to a change, what the car looks like. Once you give us a couple of races and a full year, it will feel like home and something we are very used to as drivers.

“It is already starting to get that way. People are feeling more comfortable with it. The field of view is almost identical to the way it was before. Your peripheral vision is identical, the way you look out the front of the cars is identical, the way you see the tires is identical.”

Individual driver preference will allow for shading of the sun and that can be accomplished with the visor strips on the helmet and the tear-offs on Aeroscreen.

Drivers will also have a bit of a quieter atmosphere inside the cockpit. The partial enclosure makes it easier to hear his radio communication and the sounds of the engine in the driver’s car. It partially blocks out the sounds of the engines in the other cars and the rush of wind traveling at high speeds that used to buffet in and around the helmet.

“It has changed the noise level slightly inside the cockpit,” Newgarden said. “For me, it wasn’t super dramatic. It’s a slight reduction in wind noise. You’re not getting the wind directly over your head as dramatically as you would before. All that external noise has just been dimmed.

“You can hear the radio a touch better, things like that. But the engine noise is still quite prominent. It’s bolted directly behind us, so you still hear quite a bit of what’s going on in the car and the engine.”

Dixon was in the car at Indianapolis on October 2 and returned on Tuesday. The Barber test on October 7 included this year’s Indianapolis 500 winner, Simon Pagenaud, in a Team Penske Chevrolet and Ryan Hunter-Reay in an Andretti Autosport Honda.

“The only differences are the openings on the front wing that creates some more airflow around the legs and body and a different inlet in the screen that was in place today,” Dixon told NBC Sports.com. “There were helmet cooling options since the Barber test because on the road course, some of the drivers were getting a little hotter.

“This project has been very in-depth. It hit the ground running very smoothly. There are some alternate options they are trying to create, especially on the street courses where we will experience hot condition. On street conditions, your depth perception changes because of how close you are to the walls, but we should get used to that.”

Two weeks ago, Team Penske driver Will Power said it takes a different style to get out of the race car because of the added height of the Aeroscreen.

That hasn’t been a problem for Dixon.

“That’s easy, man,” he said. “Just go through the hole in the top.”