Stewards fine Caterham over van der Garde failure

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Caterham F1 Team has been fined €10,000 ($13,000) for the unsafe release of Giedo van der Garde during today’s Spanish Grand Prix.

After pitting for a third time, van der Garde found that his left rear wheel had not been attached properly. He slowly completed the first sector in over double the time it would usually take, and told his team “it feels like my wheel is about to fall off!”

van der Garde completed the second sector before his wheel eventually came loose at the bottom of the hill, but it harmlessly meandered into the gravel trap. The Dutch driver continued the lap to return to the pits where the team opted to retire the car.

Since the death of Henry Surtees in 2009, motorsport has seen a tightening of rules regarding loose wheels, especially in single seater classes. Many drivers have been penalized with a similar fine because of this infringement; Michael Schumacher (China 2012) and Fernando Alonso (Hungary 2009) being just two of the notable examples.

The stewards also called Alonso to their office after he collected a Spanish flag from a marshal following his victory in the race, but no further action was taken.

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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