Multiple tire failures blight beginning of British GP

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Just when Pirelli appeared to be out of the woods, tires have once again become the focus of the Formula One fraternity after a series of spectacular failures during the early stages of the British Grand Prix.

With conditions very hot at Silverstone, many were expecting tire wear to be higher than usual, but it is unlikely anyone predicted the kind of tire failures that occurred. Lewis Hamilton was the first to lose out after pulling away into the lead from pole position. When going down the Wellington Straight, the left-rear tire of the Mercedes blew out, forcing Hamilton to crawl back to the pits and fall down the order.

Felipe Massa was the next driver to be affected, spinning on the entry to the Wellington Straight and too suffering a puncture. This second blowout signalled to the rest of the field that it was time to pit, with Jean-Eric Vergne being the lead runner in 7th who did not change his tires. As a result, the Toro Rosso suffered a puncture on the entry to Stowe, with the debris left on the racing line warranting the safety car to make an appearance.

Red Bull found cuts in Vettel’s rear tires, suggesting that the failures may be due to the way the kerbs have been cut. Regardless, the drivers may find themselves having to be very careful during today’s race.

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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