Whitmarsh: No regret for not reverting to 2012 car

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McLaren have endured one of their worst starts to a season in recent years, currently lying 7th in the constructors’ championship behind one-time backmarkers Force India. However, despite the evident issues with the MP4-28 car, team principal Martin Whitmarsh is still pleased that the team did not re-introduce the MP4-27 earlier in the year.

After issues with the 2013 car in testing and at the first couple of races, many believed that McLaren would be better off switching back to the 2012 spec car, but Whitmarsh is sure that this would only have hindered the team further.

“I think looking where we are now, the fact is that if we were to switch back in the last few months, one: we’re learning and we had to learn, and two: eight months ago we had the fastest car in Formula One,” Whitmarsh said. “Our competitors have moved on and that car that was competitive then frankly wouldn’t be competitive today.”

The pace of the MP4-28 has dampened the title aspirations of Jenson Button and Sergio Perez, who have amassed just 37 points between them so far in 2013; McLaren had 40 after the first race of last season. However, Whitmarsh believed that it is too easy to raise the idea of backtracking without fully understanding the circumstances.

“So, inevitably it’s easy from the outside looking in to say ‘this car isn’t as quick as you want it, why don’t you just go back’, but forgets the fact that Formula One has good, well funded teams here and people working hard and if we come back to that we lost the development time on that product as well.

“I think there are times and glimmers where we’re seeing something and learning something and having hope.”

McLaren did show good pace in China where Button finished an excellent 5th, and Sergio Perez would most probably have scored the same result barring a car failure that forced him to retire from the Monaco Grand Prix. The team is looking to switch focus to 2014, but they are by no means giving up on the current campaign.

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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