Vettel calls Mercedes test “critical issue”

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Defending world champion Sebastian Vettel has criticized Mercedes’ tire test following the Spanish Grand Prix, believing that they will have gained some advantage from the additional running, making the case a “critical issue.”

Mercedes have been summoned before the FIA’s tribunal, with the case set to be assessed in the next six weeks. However, Vettel is still perturbed by the affair, feeling that there is a clear flouting of the rules.

“I see it as a critical issue,” Vettel told Suddeutsche Zeitung. “Each test kilometre is an advantage and Mercedes had the opportunity to test tires that we will probably race at Silverstone. I think this is an advantage over all the other teams.”

Furthermore, Vettel told Autosport how he felt that the test would have aided Mercedes’ development of the W04.

“We all know how important testing is in the winter. The quality of the testing is not the same because the conditions are different.

“The cars are very early in their development so if you have the chance somewhere in the middle of the season to have a test, or three days, then it’s a big help.”

Nico Rosberg won the Monaco Grand Prix for Mercedes with ease two weeks ago, yet many believe the track’s lack of tire wear meant that the true impact of the test was not revealed. However, with the Canadian Grand Prix usually being the toughest race for tire wear, the worth of the 1000km test will be on display this weekend.

IndyCar 2017 driver review: Ed Carpenter

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MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. The 2017 season behind the wheel was better for Ed Carpenter than either of the last two years, but still wasn’t ideal results-wise in his six oval starts.

Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

  • 2016: 25th Place (5 Starts), Best Finish 18th, Best Start 5th, 0 Top-5, 0 Top-10, 1 Lap Led, 11.2 Avg. Start, 21.8 Avg. Finish
  • 2017: 22nd Place (6 Starts), Best Finish 7th, Best Start 2nd, 0 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 11.3 Avg. Start, 12.3 Avg. Finish

Ed Carpenter’s 2017 season was largely one of frustration, both behind the wheel and as a team owner.

While a respectable turnaround in results occurred – Carpenter finished between seventh and 12th in five of his six oval races after a nightmare season of ending 18th or worse in each of his 2016 starts – this is still not what he sets out to strive for in the races he does. Lost opportunities loomed larger than any official result he or the Ed Carpenter Racing team achieved.

Carpenter and new teammate JR Hildebrand, in for the departed Josef Newgarden, dominated preseason testing in Phoenix but Hildebrand could only muster third in the race, Carpenter a season-best seventh. Then at Indianapolis, Carpenter (second) and Hildebrand (sixth) flew the flag for Chevrolet in qualifying and practice pace, but they fell to 11th and 16th on race day owing to a front-wing change and late-race penalty for passing before a restart.

Both drivers got collected in incidents at Texas. Hildebrand qualified and finished a season-best second in Iowa but that result came only after the ECR crew rebuilt his car from a crash in practice. Then Carpenter had a practice crash in Pocono and despite a rapid rebuild, they missed the clock to qualify by mere minutes and were unable to do so. Carpenter’s spin on a slick Gateway track at the start of the race sent him over Will Power’s nose assembly in one of the scarier looking incidents of the year, although fortunately he was OK.

In a similar refrain as we often write, it’s not that Carpenter’s lost his ability to drive and he remains one of the series’ savviest and smartest people in the paddock. There have been a lot of extenuating circumstances of late, and it almost felt as though this team had “empty nest” components. Since September, Carpenter has had to secure his team’s future with a move away from its Speedway, Ind. shop, line up Spencer Pigot for a full-time drive replacing Hildebrand in the No. 21 car, find a new road/street course driver in the No. 20 car, and manage both driving and owning himself.