Four IndyCar teams hit the pavement today on the short course at Sebring International Raceway.
Former Formula One driver Stoffel Vandoorne tested with Arrow McLaren SP, Formula E champion Nyck de Vries was with Meyer Shank Racing, and Formula One reserve driver Jack Aitken drove the No. 20 Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing. The only current IndyCar driver participating in today’s test was Callum Ilott. The Juncos Hollinger Racing driver is set for his first full season campaign after doing four races with the team this past season.
The 26-year old Aitken has his sights set on the NTT IndyCar Series after competing in the GT World Challenge Europe and being a reserve driver for both Renault and Williams over the past four seasons. The Formula 2 race winner is hoping to follow in the same footsteps as Christian Lundgaard, who secured a full-time ride with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing for next year. Aitken joins Conor Daly and Ryan Hunter-Reay as candidates for the non-oval program with Carpenter’s team.
Arrow McLaren SP is still weighing their options for fielding a third car at select races next season, while Shank’s team has their two-car lineup set for the season with former Team Penske drivers Simon Pagenaud and four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves. The rumors are still out there regarding a possible merger of Juncos and Carlin Racing, though an official announcement is not expected to come before Christmas.
The unofficial times today were reported by RACER, with de Vries taking the top spot at 52.5526 seconds. Ilott was second-fastest at 52.8604 seconds with Vandoorne (53.1952) and Aitken (53.4361) rounding out the list on Monday. Vandoorne put down the most laps with 134 total, with Ilott (109) and Aitken (104) each eclipsing the century mark while de Vries was limited to just 62 laps on the day. There were no significant incidents during today’s test.
A report from Marshall Pruett today went into more detail about the future of MSR, with the 2023 season being the main focus. “Who said I wouldn’t run three cars?” Michael Shank told RACER. “This is a pre-emptive move, just to see how we all get along, to see how he gets along here. We do want to keep our finger on the pulse of what’s happening and who is coming up the ranks. I see another test potentially, for sure, but I don’t see a race, just from an equipment and a scheduling standpoint.”
In another article, Pruett all but confirmed the split between Vasser Sullivan and Dale Coyne for the No. 18 car. It has been speculated in recent months that Coyne will partner with HMD Motorsports on that entry, with Indy Lights runner-up David Malukas as the driver of that Honda machine. Vasser and Sullivan will continue to discuss co-entry options with other teams for 2022 as they continue with their plans to become a standalone team in 2023 or 2024 when the new hybrid engine formula debuts.
The Retro Rebel has posted several great videos from today’s test session on her Twitter account.
This was the final on-track testing in 2021, as teams and drivers will get back on track after the New Year.