Ecclestone: Sepang could use a “paint job”

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While Formula One leader Bernie Ecclestone hopes he’ll be able to extend the current contract for the Malaysian Grand Prix (due to expire in 2015), the British billionaire is also leaning on race organizers to complete their renovations on the Sepang International Circuit — mentioning that it needed a “paint job.”

“They need to finish what they started,” Ecclestone told The Star of Malaysia. “It is obviously not the same as Singapore. Maybe because they don’t spend the money.”

The Sepang circuit, which can seat up to 130,000 fans and lies south of the country’s capital of Kuala Lumpur, opened in 1999 with Formula One making its debut there that year. Organizers are currently in the second year of a five-year refurbishment project to the facility, with The Star reporting that the next main priority is the installation of a roof at the track’s paddock area, as well as additional public restrooms and surau, or prayer rooms.

The roof is set to be completed in time for the track’s MotoGP event in October.

However, outside of refurbishing Sepang, Ecclestone appears relatively happy with the Malaysian Grand Prix and wants to keep it on the F1 calendar for a while — telling The Star that “there are no dramas” involved in working with organizers there.

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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