FIA China Thursday Press Conference

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Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing) will take the headlines for obvious reasons in the wake of the team’s “Multi 21” controversy at Malaysia, but the Australian was not alone in the official FIA Press Conference on the Thursday of the Chinese Grand Prix.

Both Nicos (Rosberg, Mercedes and Hulkenberg, Sauber), Lotus’ Romain Grosjean, McLaren’s Sergio Perez and Force India’s Adrian Sutil also joined the driver lineup for the press conference.

Rosberg, who’s been quiet about his and Mercedes’ repeat chances, remained realistic rather than overly optimistic given the new Pirelli tire compounds this weekend.

“Things evolve so quickly – the different tires we have this year bring us into a whole new situation,” he said. “So you can’t really compare, you need to take it as it comes and adapt to what you have this weekend. And so, that will be crucial, working through Friday and Saturday morning to try to optimize everything in order to have a great weekend.”

Rosberg also addressed Mercedes’ own team orders plan in Malaysia, which saw the German finish behind Lewis Hamilton.

“At the end of the race, I didn’t have that thought (to overtake),” he said. “I had decided well before to fully respect the instructions that Ross (Brawn) had given me.

“The difficulty was that we hadn’t really discussed them beforehand, y’know?” he explained. “And so that was the mistake that we did. So, important going forward is that everything is discussed and then whichever way it goes, if I’m in front and Lewis is behind then he will respect it and vice versa. Then it’s OK. As long as one is prepared for it and it’s discussed well and understood, that’s the important thing and that’s the main mistake we did as a team.”

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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