Pirelli announces late change to Bahrain tire choice

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Pirelli has changed its choice of tires for the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend.

The official F1 tire supplier originally selected the soft and hard tire compounds for this weekend’s race. But in a late change the medium tire will now be used instead of the soft.

Pirelli’s soft tire came in for criticism during the Chinese Grand Prix weekend as drivers were only able to run it for short stints before it needed to be replaced.

Most drivers used the soft tire for only five or six laps during the race. Mark Webber ditched his after a single lap.

But Pirelli said the decision not to bring the soft tire to Bahrain was made before the race in China.

“When we made the allocation choices for Bahrain in December of last year, we had not done one winter test, let alone a race,” said motorsport director Paul Hembery.

“Our initial choice for Bahrain was soft and hard, but once we had seen the new generation of our tires run in Malaysia, a track similar to Bahrain, we decided that the combination medium and hard would be better suited for the Bahrain circuit.”

The medium and hard tire combination to be used this weekend is the same as was used for the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Hembery added Bahrain is “one of the most demanding tracks of the year for the tires, mostly because of the high ambient and track temperatures”. Three-stop strategies were the norm in last year’s race and Pirelli expect that to be the same this weekend.

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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