(via Motorsport.com) – Schmidt Peterson Motorsports-Honda’s James Hinchcliffe set fastest time at the end of an 8.5-hour test on Sebring’s 1.7-mile short circuit today.
The Canadian star, who has six wins to his name including last year’s race at Iowa, finished the day 0.09sec clear of Andretti Autosport’s series sophomore Zach Veach, and 0.11 ahead of 2017 Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato.
Meanwhile Hinchcliffe’s teammate, ex-Formula 1 Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson, was eighth fastest, and SPM’s general manager Taylor Kiel declared himself satisfied with the day’s work from both his drivers.
“James was quickest in the morning and the afternoon, so it was a good day,” he told Motorsport.com. “We did around 80 laps with James and focused on validating a lot of the work we’d done in the offseason, which was improving on a couple of areas where we struggled last year.
“There were times when we could be quick but weren’t consistent with it. So while we want to unload well and compete for poles, we also need something we can race with, too. There were times in 2018 – Detroit, Long Beach for example – when we qualified well but we didn’t have a good racecar, we couldn’t keep the tires under us.
“So we’ve taken big swings at a couple of things to make a more predictable package and one that stays consistent on raceday.”
For Ericsson, who completed approximately 120 laps, it was a second chance to drive Sebring in an IndyCar, and while Kiel was highly impressed with the Swede in his first test last December, he said today’s run “posed a totally different challenge” due to circuit conditions.
“Typical Sebring – a completely different track than we saw last month!” said Kiel. “It was starting from square one for Marcus in terms of car setup.
“But that’s not a bad thing, because it’s important to us that he is totally comfortable in the car whatever the conditions. We want him to know what particular changes to the car will do and therefore what to ask for when we get to St. Pete, or Long Beach or Barber.
“So we did again what we did at his first test – set up a straightforward test plan with a lot of big-ticket items that we wanted him to feel. So it was less about lap time and more about getting him to a situation where he’s comfortable and can add some input on race weekends.”