Valsecchi: Tires slower, but last longer

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Lotus reserve driver Davide Valsecchi believes that there is a noticeable difference in the new Pirelli tires after testing them at Silverstone this week.

The verdict on the new tires has been largely split so far. Sebastian Vettel claims that he has not noticed much of a change, whilst Pastor Maldonado reckons there is a big difference. For Valsecchi though, his conclusions are only based on half a day of testing during pre-season.

“It wasn’t easy giving comparative feedback as I only ran for half a day in Barcelona using the original specification 2013 tyres,” Valsecchi explained on Lotus’ official website.

However, the Italian driver believes that the tires may be slower but longer-lasting.

“The data suggests that maybe the newer tyres are a little slower, but to be sure of that we would need one of the race drivers with the car in qualifying configuration. We weren’t in qualifying configuration and it was Davide Valsecchi and not Kimi or Romain today! My thoughts are that maybe they’re a little slower, but last a little longer; the engineers will be able to give you a better answer.”

Valsecchi will continue in the test driver role for Lotus for the foreseeable future, completing work on their simulator to aid Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean’s efforts on-track this season.

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.