Firestone Indy Lights competitor Jack Hawksworth's first experience in an IZOD IndyCar Series car left him wanting more. The Englishman, who won the Star Mazda Championship in 2012 and has won three races in Firestone Indy Lights this season, tested a car for Rahal Letterman Racing at Sebring on Tuesday.
"I really enjoyed it," Hawksworth said. "All of the guys made me feel really welcome, I worked well with all the guys, the engineers, mechanics. It was just a fantastic day.
"It was a lot of fun, and I think we had a really strong day as well. What was really cool about it was that we actually went into a test plan. We were testing things, we weren't just going out and doing laps, you were working with an IndyCar team on a test day and trying to develop the car and things that they want to test. I really enjoyed that part of it. It was obviously a bit of an eye opener working with an IndyCar team and the way they work, and it was a great day."
Hawksworth has tested a Firestone Indy Lights car at Sebring, which aided in his adapting to the higher downforce and horsepower produced by an Indy car.
"The big thing is for me that the braking is different -- in the Lights car you can't hit the brake nearly as hard as you can hit it in an IndyCar," he said. "But the way you actually drive the car in terms of how you went into the corner, how you try to get your turning done in the corner is quite similar."
Hawksworth, who is locked in a fierce battle for the Firestone Indy Lights title and the Mazda Road to Indy scholarship given to the champion, is hopeful of moving up to the IZOD IndyCar Series in the future. The experience of driving the Indy car has only heightened the dream.
"The Indy car is a lot more modern and you have a lot more to think about in the car. There are a lot more knobs on the steering wheel and whatnot," he noted. "It's got a lot more grip, a lot more downforce and a bit more power. It's just a bigger, faster car and it's always fun when you jump into something that is a step up. And it certainly was that.”
Eddie Jones, who is the race engineer for the No. 16 Acorn Stairlifts entry driven by James Jakes, served as Hawksworth's engineer.
“Jack was very impressive,” said Jones. “He has a great attitude and focus. From the first outing it was quite clear that he is very capable. He had a very intelligent approach to the whole test and gave very good feedback. We made some good changes to the car that we were interested in as a team and his feedback was accurate, it compared well to the data and he was fast. There is no doubt he has all the ingredients to be a very good driver at this level.”