Spring Training has officially begun for the Verizon IndyCar Series.
All teams made the trip down to Barber Motorsports Park, where the “Promoter Test” is taking place. Nearly every driver saw the track during Monday’s sessions. There will likely be 24 cars on the grid during the first race of the season at St Petersburg, but Simona de Silvestro was not able to participate. She was just signed by Andretti Autosport (for at least the St Petersburg race) but the team wasn’t able to get a car put together in time for the test. Still, she was there on Monday, as were Justin Wilson and Pippa Mann.
Carlos Huertas and Francesco Dracone are testing with Dale Coyne’s team, and the Honda-based team announced their plans for the 2015 season. Huertas will return to the No. 18 car full-time, and Dracone will drive the 19 car in the first four races this year.
It was a short day for Ganassi driver Sage Karam. He slid off the track in turn 14 on his third lap during the morning session and suffered an injury to his right hand after making contact with the guardrail. He was not cleared to drive when he was released from the medical center. He wouldn’t have been able to get back in the car anyway, as his No. 8 Chevrolet car suffered significant damage.
Karam updated everyone on social media later in the day.
The lap times were much faster today, which was no surprise. It didn’t take long for last year’s pole time to be shattered, even on the black Firestones. Team Penske’s newest driver, Simon Pagenaud, was quickest during the morning session (1:07.745) with Scott Dixon (1:08.040) second, and CFHR’s Josef Newgarden third (1:08.221).
The series was also testing out an LED Scoring System on the cars, in which they hope to implement early this season. An 8-inch-wide by 7-inch-tall LED panel, which is only 3 millimeters thick, will be attached to either side of the airbox on each car. IndyCar President of Competition and Operations, Derrick Walker, said that the idea wasn’t anything new. “This project started over a year ago in concept and it really is about how we can get fans more engaged, allow them to see more of what’s going on.”
Will Power was excited about the new aero kits before the test, and even more so afterwards. “Man is it fast! I’m almost wide open running into Turn 1. I think right now Chevy has the advantage and I expect them to because they’ve done a lot of good work.”
Here is a short video from today, courtesy of al.com on YouTube.
This video from IndyCar gives us a great on-board lap at Barber with Sebastien Bourdais.
Scott Dixon was fastest on the day, with a time of 1:07.4805 seconds. The four Penske drivers (Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, Juan Montoya, and Helio Castroneves) rounded out the top five, giving Chevrolet the edge on the day. There were a total of 1189 laps turned on Monday. Click here to see the full combined results from Monday’s test.
Newgarden was fast on Monday, and raved about the course and the new aero kits. “Barber is a very fast track and it’s one of the tracks where you will see the most out of the new kits. When it gets fully rubbered up and we try to run as much downforce as possible it will be very physical around this place. It’s going to be quite a challenge. I already feel it in my neck.”
Graham Rahal also touched on the improved speeds, and what his team needs to work on going forward. “Today was good. We got through a lot of things we wanted to test. It’s kind of frustrating not being the quickest Honda now that we have been a couple of times. I think we’re creeping up on this though. At the end of the day, on the theoreticals, we’re quickest so we need to put the lap together. I think one of the things we’re suffering with a little bit is the consistency of the car from one lap to the next and that’s what we’re going to have to work on tomorrow. We’re working through a lot. The guys are working extremely hard and I think things are looking pretty good.”
Below is a collection of photos from Monday, courtesy of IndyCar.
Testing will resume tomorrow, with the same schedule as today. While today’s sessions were free and open to the public, Tuesday is closed to the public.