The 1.7-mile, 13-turn quick course at Sebring is the closest that IndyCar squads can get to testing on a avenue course. Its bumps and kerbs ship the chassis into paroxysms, whereas placing a crew’s shock and damper programme below the highlight.
“It’s not unhealthy – the most effective illustration we’ve bought of a avenue course,” stated one driver. “The 2 issues it helps with, as a driver, are  studying find out how to make the proper requires conserving the automobile within the window because the observe consistently evolves as increasingly more rubber goes down. After which  power-down out of turns, when it’s slippery at first of the day and when it’s rubbered up close to the top of a check day… I reckon that’s fairly comparable throughout all avenue tracks.
“There’s all the time bumps to cope with, so if it goes mild, you get wheelspin, so that you want the rear tyres actually digging in and discovering traction. Testing at Sebring can level you in the proper path there. However it’s by no means going to inform you all the pieces it is advisable to know for avenue programs. You’d have to essentially flip in early, go throughout the kerbs, to signify the shit we have now to cope with on the racing line in Detroit…”
Nonetheless, with 5 of this yr’s 17 races being held on short-term programs, any information gleaned from Sebring is effective to particular person drivers and race engineers. Comparative information inside a crew may also show useful as these concerned will know the way a lot gas weight and tire life must be constructed into the efficiency calculations. However team-to-team judgments are near-impossible.
There have been discrepancies from our 4 sources for 3 of the vehicles concerned, so Autosport has gone with the consensus.
Herta units Monday tempo
Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport Honda
Photograph by: IndyCar Collection
With out touching the push-to-pass enhance, Colton Herta topped the occasions for Andretti Autosport on Monday with a time zero.17 seconds sooner than that of his new team-mate, Romain Grosjean. However even when we had been to charge their abilities completely on par, that hole is hardly uncommon, even on a roughly 52-second lap, particularly on condition that second-year driver Grosjean continues to be studying about Andretti’s baseline set-up. It’s fairly totally different from the ex-Method 1 man’s solely earlier reference, the Dale Coyne Racing crew he drove for in 2021.
In any case, Grosjean was concentrating on the fundamentals at Sebring. The sort of finessing that finds a driver a couple of hundredths of a second – or perhaps a tenth if he’s fortunate – weren’t on his agenda. Autosport has discovered that he and race engineer Olivier Boisson didn’t modify the entrance wing, for instance. Had he accomplished so, Grosjean might need matched Herta’s time, however maybe one thing Herta didn’t attempt might need put him additional forward.
What of their team-mates? Alexander Rossi will not be zero.45s slower than Herta round a 52s lap, as Monday’s occasions recommend. However it solely takes a mistake in a single nook on his finest lap to stretch the hole between them.
Encouragingly, rookie Devlin DeFrancesco was very a lot within the ballpark, matching Rossi’s time to the hundredth of a second within the afternoon. Many felt he would have benefitted from a second yr in Indy Lights to tidy up his fashion and discover these very important tenths that might make him a frontrunner. At some point of testing at Sebring can’t show he’s cured his ills, however he was additionally higher than anticipated in his exams final yr at Sebring and Barber Motorsports Park, so engineer Andy Listes seems to have somebody value moulding. It might be that DeFrancesco – who set a sooner lap than each Herta and Patricio O’Ward when the trio drove the identical DragonSpeed ORECA to LMP2 class victory within the Daytona 24 Hours – finds his finest type in additional highly effective vehicles.
It was no shock to see the quickest Chevrolet driver, Workforce Penske’s Josef Newgarden, a few quarter-second off the last word tempo of the Honda-powered Herta, since sluggish turns – the engine’s driveability on exit, to be extra exact – have by no means been the strongest a part of the Bowtie’s sport. Newgarden was zero.13s forward of team-mate Will Energy, however Sebring has historically not been a observe the place the Aussie veteran shines.
Behind them, Felix Rosenqvist matched Arrow McLaren SP team-mate O’Ward, the Swede persevering with on his improved type from late 2021. O’Ward’s finest lap was recorded within the morning, in contrast to nearly all of check individuals, so he most likely missed his prime second within the afternoon. However that’s not to dismiss Rosenqvist’s efforts: in preseason testing final yr, as he tailored to the crew he’d joined from Chip Ganassi Racing, he was means off O’Ward’s occasions as he grappled with AMSP’s very front-downforce-heavy setup.
Graham Rahal and Jack Harvey set all-but-identical occasions for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, however had been zero.4s sooner than the crew’s latest recruit Christian Lundgaard. That isn’t one thing we’d anticipate to see this yr and Autosport understands the Method 2 graduate – who shone on his debut on the Indianapolis street course final yr – was on a special programme.
Lundgaard lagged behind his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team-mates
Photograph by: IndyCar Collection
A ultimate spotlight of the occasions – with all the standard caveats in place, in fact – was the efficiency of rookie Kyle Kirkwood within the AJ Foyt Racing. He’s been impressed with the crew’s damper programme, and the crew is more than pleased to observe the Indy Lights champion’s want to dial out the automobile’s understeer that his predecessor Sebastien Bourdais favoured.
Quickest occasions with out push-to-pass, Monday
|1||Colton Herta||Andretti Herta Autosport-Honda||51.85|
|2||Romain Grosjean||Andretti Autosport-Honda||52.02|
|three||Josef Newgarden||Workforce Penske-Chevrolet||52.09|
|four||Will Energy||Workforce Penske-Chevroelt||52.22|
|5||Felix Rosenqvist||Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet||52.23|
|6||Pato O’Ward||Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet||52.25|
|7||Graham Rahal||Rahal Letterman Lanigan-Honda||52.26|
|eight||Jack Harvey||Rahal Letterman Lanigan-Honda||52.28|
|9=||Alexander Rossi||Andretti Autosport-Honda||52.30|
|9=||Devlin DeFrancesco||Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport-Honda||52.30|
|11||Scott McLaughlin||Workforce Penske-Chevrolet||52.32|
|12||Kyle Kirkwood||AJ Foyt Racing-Chevrolet||52.39|
|13||David Malukas||Dale Coyne Racing with HMD-Honda||52.43|
|14||Kevin Magnussen||Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda||52.46|
|15||Callum Ilott||Juncos Hollinger Racing-Chevrolet||52.48|
|16||Tatiana Calderon||AJ Foyt Racing-Chevrolet||52.54|
|17||Christian Lundgaard||Rahal Letterman Lanigan-Honda||52.66|
Hélio Castroneves, Meyer Shank Racing Honda, Simon Pagenaud, Meyer Shank Racing Honda
Photograph by: IndyCar Collection
“Jack Harvey’s an excellent driver, however why was he so excited to depart Shank and go to Rahal’s crew?” remarked one paddock luminary after spying Tuesday’s Sebring occasions, with 2016 champion Simon Pagenaud on prime, a couple of hundredths faster than Meyer Shank Racing team-mate Helio Castroneves. “I feel Jack wanted to be a bit extra affected person, give it one other yr – as a result of I reckon he’s stop Meyer Shank at precisely the mistaken time, and he’s going to be kicking himself…”
This remark got here from a person who is aware of in addition to anybody that Sebring check occasions have too many variables to make a very sound judgment, however Pagenaud was left very happy by the dealing with of his MSR automobile, and the facility supply of his Honda, after seven years in a Penske-Chevrolet.
Andretti Autosport and Penske weren’t current on Tuesday to supply a helpful reference level. So if Pagenaud’s quickest lap seems worryingly adrift of Herta’s Monday time, effectively, that’s typical Sebring and why day-to-day comparisons can’t be made. On Tuesday the drivers had been having to cope with very tough wind situations, the sort one encounters on a flat, unshielded former Military base airfield, and never consultant of any avenue programs on the calendar, save maybe the primary straight at St. Petersburg (which can also be a part of an airport).
Marcus Ericsson is on a confidence excessive in the meanwhile, so it’s no shock to see him a tad sooner than his champion team-mates within the Chip Ganassi Racing steady, no matter barely totally different programmes for the day.
Worries over Rinus VeeKay’s type within the second half of final yr (not worries that both he or his Ed Carpenter Racing crew expressed, it should be famous) after his clavicle-busting bike shunt, can seem like put to relaxation, as he turned the quickest Chevy lap of the day. Proper behind him was Kirkwood, whereas the one crew fielding a solo automobile, Juncos Hollinger Racing and Callum Ilott, deserve a lot credit score for being solely zero.42s off Pagenaud’s finest time.
In the meantime, Takuma Sato’s first check with Dale Coyne Racing noticed him end the day a couple of hundredths behind rookie team-mate David Malukas, who had run the day gone by. They’re anticipated to be intently matched on street and avenue programs this yr.
Ought to we draw conclusions from this check? Completely not. Can we see any indicators of patterns rising? Sure, however not sufficient for a hard-and-fast type information.
Quickest occasions with out push-to-pass, Tuesday
|1||Simon Pagenaud||Meyer Shank Racing-Honda||52.11|
|2||Helio Castroneves||Meyer Shank Racing-Honda||52.19|
|three||Marcus Ericsson||Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda||52.21|
|four||Rinus VeeKay||Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevrolet||52.27|
|5||Kyle Kirkwood||AJ Foyt Racing-Chevrolet||52.28|
|6||Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda||52.32|
|7||Alex Palou||Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda||52.33|
|eight||Conor Daly||Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevrolet||52.41|
|9||Callum Ilott||Juncos Hollinger Racing-Chevrolet||52.53|
|10||David Malukas||Dale Coyne Racing with HMD-Honda||52.72|
|11||Takuma Sato||Dale Coyne Racing with RWR-Honda||52.80|
|12||Jimmie Johnson||Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda||52.95|
|13||Dalton Kellett||AJ Foyt Racing-Chevrolet||53.03|
|14||Tatiana Calderon||AJ Foyt Racing-Chevrolet||53.05|