Vettel and Massa make biggest gains so far

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Sebastian Vettel and Felipe Massa have made the best starts to the new season compared to how they performed last year.

Both drivers have racked up 22 points more than they collected in the first two rounds of 2012.

Vettel’s controversial win in Malaysia has put him at the top of the drivers’ championship with 40 points – five more than last year’s early leader Fernando Alonso enjoyed at this stage.

Massa’s bright start to 2013 is in marked contrast to his troubled 2012 campaign. This time last year he was yet to score – twelve months on he is ahead of team mate Alonso in the championship.

Alonso’s failure to finish in Malaysia – a race he won last year – is an early setback for his championship prospects. He went into the season expecting a stronger start than he had with the troubled F2012:

“I’m confident I can start the season with a better car than the one we had in the first few months of last year, Alonso said in January.

“It was actually in the early races that we lost decisive points, when we had a car that was only good enough for seventh, as was the case in China or ninth in Bahrain.”

This year it’s McLaren who’ve started the season with an uncompetitive car, meaning Jenson Button and Sergio Perez are the drivers who have lost the most points compared to 2012. Here’s a full table for all the drivers.

Position Driver Points Change
1 Sebastian Vettel 40 +22
2 Kimi Raikkonen 31 +15
3 Mark Webber 26 +2
4 Lewis Hamilton 25 -5
5 Felipe Massa 22 +22
6 Fernando Alonso 18 -17
7 Nico Rosberg 12 +12
8 Romain Grosjean 9 +9
9 Adrian Sutil 6 +6
10 Paul di Resta 4 -3
11 Nico Hulkenberg 4 +2
12 Sergio Perez 2 -20
13 Jenson Button 2 -23
14 Jean-Eric Vergne 1 -3

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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