Drivers enthusiastic about return of Austrian GP

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After it was announced earlier this week that the Austrian Grand Prix would be returning to the Formula One calendar in 2014, many of the drivers have been quick to welcome its comeback ahead of the race in neighboring Hungary this weekend.

In the drivers’ press conference, Kimi Raikkonen, Paul di Resta and Esteban Gutierrez all praised the decision to bring the race back although Raikkonen was the only driver present who had raced on the circuit in an F1 car back in 2003. However, the Finn explained how he was a fan of the circuit.

“I was there maybe two years ago or something the last time,” Raikkonen explained. “It looks slightly different. The circuit is exactly the same, I think. It’s a nice place to go, I think. It’s not a very difficult circuit because it hasn’t got many corners, but it usually produces very good racing because of the layout of the straights and the tight corners. I’m more than happy to go back there.”

Paul di Resta is looking forward to tackling a new event next season having never raced at the circuit before.

“A new event, yeah. I’ve never been there so I don’t know what to expect but it looks a very good track from what Kimi said.”

Esteban Gutierrez, who was just 11 years old when the last Austrian GP was held, is also looking forward to a fresh challenge.

“It looks interesting, obviously another track, hard to know what to expect but it’s always interesting to go to a new place,” the Mexican driver said.

The Red Bull Ring is expected to welcome F1 in July next season, possibly causing the calendar swell to as many as 22 races.

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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