Sutil stayed “realistic” despite leading for the first time

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Adrian Sutil says he stayed realistic about his chances of winning the Australian Grand Prix despite it being the first time he had led a Grand Prix.

It was a dream return for the Force India driver who did not race last year but hit the front of the field just 14 laps into his comeback:

“It was great to lead an F1 race for the first time,” he told the official F1 website. “I think it was 14 laps and I enjoyed each of them, but I was realistic and knew that a win or podium at this race was not realistic. But I fought hard to stay in front as long as possible.”

For Force India this was the first time they’d led two races in a row. Former driver Nico Hulkenberg led 30 laps of the 2012 season finale in Brazil.

Sutil admitted that failing to reach the top ten in qualifying played into his hands as it allowed him to choose his tires for the first stint:

“I was very lucky to have the chance to decide which tires I will start with. And we decided to start on the medium ones.

“This choice was the right one and I could even have stayed out for some more laps on them. The car felt fantastic and so I was even able to take the lead as all the others ahead of me had to pit earlier to take new tires.”

However once Sutil switched to the super-soft tires he struggled with graining in the final laps. He was caught by team mate Paul di Resta, who was told by his team not to overtake Sutil.

“I wasn’t sure for some laps if I could finish the race with this set of tires,” he added. “But after some laps with really bad lap times they came back and I could save P7, which was a great result for me.”

See Sutil leading the Australian Grand Prix in the video below:

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Marco Andretti confident that fewer tests won’t hurt Andretti Autosport

Photo: IndyCar
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A small point of debate around the 2018 aero kit has been the manufacturer test days that took place through the Fall of 2017 and into the beginning of 2018. Chiefly, the debate has centered around teams who hadn’t participated in those manufacturer test days and if they’re starting the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season at a disadvantage as a result.

Team Penske, Ed Carpenter Racing, and A.J. Foyt Racing completed test days for Chevrolet, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing doing so for Honda.

That left teams like Andretti Autosport out of the mix, with some voicing concerns as a result.

However, in a press conference during testing at ISM Raceway last weekend, Marco Andretti explained that he thinks Andretti Autosport should be able to catch up on development, citing the team’s resources – they’re the only IndyCar team with four full-time cars in their stable – and the fact that everyone is still adapting to the new kit.

“I feel like it’s early enough days that, yes, we can catch up,” Andretti said at ISM Raceway. “When there is anything new, a new car, new aero kit, at-track days are huge. We can sim all these things we want. To really get out there and confirm what we’re learning back at the shop is another thing.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay during testing at ISM Raceway. Photo: IndyCar

Andretti continued, “Yeah, I don’t think we should look at it like we’re behind the eight ball. With a four-car team, that’s where we can use it to our benefit. So far so good.”

Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, echoed Andretti’s sentiments, adding that while the situation is not perfect, they will need to adapt to it in order to remain competitive.

“Any time you have a new car, to put it into perspective, we’re on track three days on a road course before we get to (the season open in St. Petersburg). That’s a very short amount of time. It’s obviously not ideal, but we’re just going to lace up our boots and get on with it. That’s all you can do.”

Andretti Autosport will have one more team test, at Sebring International Raceway later on in February, before the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

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