Ferrari uncertain of reasons behind car failures

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Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali is unsure of the reasons behind his drivers’ car failures which ended all hopes of victory in Bahrain today.

Fernando Alonso suffered a problem early on which saw his DRS system become jammed open. This forced him into pitting twice within two laps, dropping him right down the order, and Domenicali made no secret of his disappointment.

“We don’t know yet. There is a failure and it’s a disappointment because today we could have done a great race. Honestly the pace was there,” Domenicali told Sky Sports.

Ferrari’s day went from bad to worse as Felipe Massa suffered two punctures, and Domenicali was again unsure of what caused these failures.

“It was not the day for us because Felipe had contact at the beginning and then two problems with the tires that we need to understand. We need to understand because one came suddenly at the last corner and one came on the back straight.”

“So not a good day for us, let’s move ahead. Big shame, but that’s racing.”

Alonso did recover to finish 8th, but he was similarly disappointed after running P2 before the problem.

“It was very difficult. We stopped two times in two laps so you are at the back of the group and with no DRS to pass the race becomes very difficult,” the Spanish driver said.

“But it’s the way it went today. A very unlucky race again so in four races two very unlucky moments. It will come for the others and we will take the opportunity in that moment.”

The result sees Ferrari slip to third in the constructors’ championship, and Alonso is now 30 points behind Vettel in the race for the drivers’ title. However, Ferrari will be pleased with its pace this weekend, and Alonso is certainly not to be discounted from challenging for the championship.

Michael Andretti looking forward to new Australian Supercars venture

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If it seems like Michael Andretti is out to conquer the world, he is – kind of.

The former IndyCar star turned prolific team owner has won three of the last four Indianapolis 500s and five overall, second only to Roger Penske’s 16 Indy 500 triumphs.

Along the way, in addition to expanding his own IndyCar and Indy Lights operation, the son of Mario Andretti and the primary shareholder of Andretti Autosport has also branched out into Global RallyCross and Formula E racing in recent years.

And now, Andretti has further expanded his brand internationally, following Penske to the world down under — as in the world of Australian V8 Supercars.

Andretti has teamed with Supercars team owner Ryan Walkinshaw, along with veteran motorsports marketer and executive director of McLaren Technology Group and United Autosports owner and chairman, Zak Brown.

Together, the three have formed Walkinshaw Andretti United, based in suburban Melbourne, Australia. The new team kicks off the new season with the Adelaide 500 from March 1-4.

“It’s just extending our brand and putting it out there,” Andretti told NBC Sports. “The Supercars are such a great series.

“It all started with Zach Brown calling me and said ‘You have to talk to Ryan Walkinshaw. He’s got something interesting to talk to you about.’

“We talked and literally in like a half-hour, we said, ‘Let’s figure out how we’re going to make this work.’ And then Zack was like, ‘Hey, what about me?’ And then Zack came in as a partner and it’s cool now that we have the Walkinshaw Andretti United team.

“I’m really excited about that program, the guys at the shop are excited about it, we’ve been doing a lot of things to try and help it because it’s such a cool series and the cars are so cool.

“I went down there to Bathurst, which was to me one of the coolest tracks in the world. I wish I could have driven it, I really do. It looks like a blast.

“It’s amazing how big that series is when you go down there. It’s one of the biggest sports in Australia. It was just a great opportunity for us to extend our portfolio.”

Admittedly, Andretti had some extra incentive to want to get involved in the Supercars world: Penske joined forces with legendary Dick Johnson Racing in September 2014.

The organization came together quickly and the rebranded DJR Team Penske went on to win the 2017 V8 Supercars championship.

“Roger was down there the last few years,” Andretti said, adding that fact as incentive to get his own organization into the series. “So it’s cool to go race head-to-head with Roger. That was also in the back of our minds.”

This is no start-up venture for Andretti. The roots of the new venture began in 1990 as the Holden Racing Team, which went on to become one of the most successful organizations in Australian V8 Supercar racing, having won the drivers’ championship six times and the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship’s top race, the Bathurst 1000 (essentially Australia’s version of the Indy 500), seven times.

Last season, Holden Racing team morphed into Triple Eight Race Engineering and was renamed Mobil 1 HSV Racing.

And now the company has been renamed once again for the 2018 campaign under the Walkinshaw Andretti United banner.

The team will be composed of two Holden ZB Commodores with drivers James Courtney and Scott Pye, as well as a Porsche 911 GT3-R in the Australian GT championship.

What’s next for Andretti’s motorsports portfolio? Right now, it’s pretty full, but you can bet running for championships from Australia (Supercars) to globally (GRC) to Indianapolis (Indy 500) to the U.S. (Verizon IndyCar Series) are at the top of this year’s list.