IndyCar’s trio of former F1 drivers are hoping to use prior experience to their advantage as the series makes it’s long-awaited debut at the Circuit of the Americas. As the only active drivers to have sampled the Texan circuit in race conditions, they are confident it could provide a competitive edge in Sunday’s IndyCar Classic.
“I think having that prior knowledge and experience at COTA will be a major asset”, said Max Chilton. The Carlin driver competed in the 2013 US Grand Prix with the now defunct Manor F1 team. Despite finishing 21st, Chilton completed all but two laps of the race.
Chilton’s perspective is one that is shared by former Sauber F1 driver Marcus Ericsson.
“I can’t wait to get to COTA”, said the Swedish rookie. “It’s the only track on the calendar that I know from before, having raced there previously quite a few times in Formula One”.
Ericsson – who hopes to bounce back from a disappointing DNF at the season opening Firestone Grand Prix – raced at the circuit four times during his F1 career. The Arrow Schmidt Peterson racer believes he can bring that experience to bear this weekend and properly kick-start his rookie season.
“It’s a track I really like”, said the 28-year-old. “I’ve had some strong weekends there in F1 so I’m coming back with good memories.”
While Ericsson last raced at COTA just five months ago, Chilton and fellow former Manor driver Alexander Rossi have to go a little further back.
“It’s been six years since I ran here in F1 and obviously, things are a bit different”, admitted Chilton. The Chevrolet driver, however, feels like February’s COTA test has blown away any cobwebs: “We worked through a lot back in February at the open test and we made some major progress on where we wanted the car to be for the race.”
Rossi – who recorded a career-best 12th place finish in the 2015 US Grand Prix – is perhaps best placed of the three to use his prior F1 experience to the greatest advantage. The most experienced of the trio in terms of IndyCar starts, Rossi is confident the blend of recent experience from both championships will help him.
“I am thrilled that INDYCAR is finally coming to such an impressive facility”, said the 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner. “We had a strong test here last month, so will be looking to execute and show the same performance come Sunday.”
Rossi – along with rookie Colton Herta – topped the timesheets during IndyCar Spring Training last month.
Opening practice for the IndyCar Classic at COTA begins Friday, March 22 from 10.15am (local) before qualifying on Saturday, March 23 at 2pm (local).
The green flag drops on the 60-lap race at 12.40pm (local).