The learning process for Verizon IndyCar Series rookies Alexander Rossi and Spencer Pigot has begun in earnest, with the two Americans driving their race cars for the first time as part of a two-day test at Sebring.
Both drivers debuted on Tuesday (1 March) alongside Team Penske's quartet of Helio Castroneves, Will Power, Juan Pablo Montoya and Simon Pagenaud, as well as KVSH Racing's Sebastien Bourdais and Rossi's Andretti Autosport team-mates Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Carlos Munoz, and, for the erstwhile F1 driver, it was a first taste of life in the Indy Car cockpit as he got used to the #98 machine.
"It's been a positive day-and-a-half so far," said Rossi, who is transitioning back to the American open-wheel racing scene after spending the last several years climbing the European ladder series, "The car is pretty similar to other things I've driven. There's quite a bit of downforce, which is fun for a driver to have, and the first set of tyres was a bit of a learning experience, but I think by, mid-morning, we were on pace with everyone else."
"The adaptation came pretty quick, now it's just working on test items. I think we're pretty pleased with the way the team has come together and performed as a whole. At the end of the day, it's an enjoyable car to drive and I'm looking forward to racing it next week."
While it wasn't the first time Pigot, the 2015 Indy Lights champion, had driven an IndyCar, he was working with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing for the first time in the #16 Honda he is scheduled to drive at St Petersburg and Indianapolis, and spent much of the time out of the car talking with engineer Neil Fife and with team-mate Graham Rahal and his engineer, Eddie Jones.
"I really enjoying working with everyone and we've really improved the car over the last two days," Pigot said, "There's a lot of things for me to get used to with the car and the way the team operates, but they've been doing a great job getting me comfortable.
"Even though I've driven a car before, it's been so long since that test day that I had to re-learn everything anyway. The amount of speed you can carry through the corners because of the downforce and the grip of the tyres is really impressive."