No one was particularly surprised to see Will Power's name on top of the time sheets for both of this week's two days of post-season tests at Sebring International Raceway in Florida, but there were plenty of double-takes at the name in second position.
While there were no official times released for the session - which was essentially a private testing opportunity for the teams - reporters present at Sebring handed the top lap time on both days to Penske's Will Power, with his best lap on the 1.65-mile short course being reported as 52.84s on Thursday, after Wednesday had been largely affected by rain.
"It was good, solid; we got through a lot of stuff and came away in good shape,” Power told reporters afterwards. "Now we'll get a little time off and then get back to it in January."
But it was 2012 Firestone Indy Lights champion Tristan Vautier who came closest to edging Power for the top spot, the IndyCar
rookie setting an unofficial laptime of 52.85s - just 0.01s off Power's top time - in the Schmidt-Hamilton Motorsport car on the second day of testing.
"Tristan had such a great year with us in Firestone Indy Lights, and he truly deserves this chance to test in an IndyCar," said team owner Sam Schmidt, who is hoping that he will be able to field a second car alongside that of regular driver Simon Pagenaud.
"It feels like a big Indy Lights car with a few things to change in the driving style," said Vautier after completing over 200 miles of testing on Thursday. "I tried to improve throughout the morning, and the engineers were very good to help me."
Vautier's stand-out performance in the test "might give Sam a headache or a few things to think about," said team manager Rob Edwards as the teams packed up for the Christmas break. "He's very professional, wasn't overwhelmed with anything he had to do and was on pace right from the start of the day. His consistency and his feedback, he just did a great job all day."
Four more drivers - Alex Tagliani (Bryah Herta Autosport), Josef Newgarden (Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing), Justin Wilson (Dale Coyne Racing) and Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi) - also put in times under 53s. Simona de Silvestro was also in action for her new team KV Racing Technology, and actually went faster than her more experienced team mate Tony Kanaan during the day.
GP3 star Conor Daly's unofficial best laptime of 53.29s in his first test for AJ Foyt Racing on Thursday was thought to be 12th fastest of the 15 drivers working at Sebring, and put him faster than several more experienced hands.