The 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season will conclude at Sonoma Raceway on September 18. Today though, two of the powerhouse teams in the sport took to the scenic road course to do some testing with their Chevrolet machines. All four Ganassi drivers (Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball, Max Chilton) participated on Wednesday. They were joined by two of the drivers from Team Penske (Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud) in the test that was free and open to the public.
“Any time we can get on the track is valuable,” said Dixon, the defending series and Sonoma champion. “We get such limited days, so we have a long list of stuff to go through whether it’s the new 2016 brakes, some new aero pieces, some mapping for the engine, and a lot of unanswered questions we have as a team. We could probably spend about a week out here and still have a list of stuff to go through. It’s great to be back in Sonoma.”
Chilton becomes the first British driver in more than a decade to have driven full-time in Formula 1 prior to joining the Verizon IndyCar Series in the same capacity. At 24, Chilton joins the team after making 35 starts in Formula 1 from 2013-’14 for the Marussia F1 team.
Chilton is the first British driver in more than ten years to have driven full time in Formula 1 before participating in a full season in IndyCar. He started 35 races for the Marussia F1 team in 2013 and 2014. Chilton will head to Auto Club Speedway on Saturday for his Rookie Oval Test. After that, he’ll be at Sebring for Rookie Test Day on February 22.
“It’s a bit of a shock today,” said Chilton. “I haven’t been in a racing car in six months and that was an Indy Lights car, so I’ve got to learn the track today and the car. But I think the morning went swimmingly well. I was quicker than I thought I would be. It’s a really nice kit and I can’t wait to explore it throughout the season.”
Castroneves knows what it takes to win at Sonoma. He recalled what it took for him to win here in 2008. “To win this race, you’ve got to put all the pieces of the puzzle together,” said Castroneves. “You have to have a good combination and there’s no question I have one of the best teams in the paddock and that’s why we’re confident that every time we come here, we’re going to do well. This track is very suitable for IndyCar because we are going really, really fast. No question it’s going to be another challenging race, and I’m looking forward to coming back here.”
There were plenty of new aero pieces on display during Wednesday’s open session.
Chevrolet’s rear wheel guards more closely resemble Honda’s, and the Honda sidepod appears to be similar to Chevrolet’s. There will certainly be a lot of questions about both manufacturers heading into the big test in Phoenix on February 26-27.
Below are some photos from today’s test, courtesy of Marshall Pruett from RACER:
RACER also put together a nice video from today, which is posted below.
For tickets to the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, call 800-870-RACE (7223) or visit SonomaRaceway.com/indycar. Great packages are now available, including the popular Total Access pass, which includes a race-day reserved-seat ticket in any section and a Garage/Pit/Pre-race pass for just $99.