Lotus say Vettel, not penalties, spoiled Grosjean’s race

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The greatest damage to Romain Grosjean’s victory chances in the Hungarian Grand Prix was not done by his penalties during and after the race, according to Lotus.

The team believe the real harm to Grosjean’s hopes of scoring his first win in Hungary were done when he got stuck behind Sebastian Vettel.

Grosjean came close to passing Vettel at the start but the Red Bull driver gave him little space on the run to turn one, ensuring the Lotus stayed behind. Grosjean spent the next two stints in Vettel’s wheel tracks.

“It could have been better, yes, but we were not expecting to get stuck behind Vettel at the beginning of the race, to be honest,” team principal Boullier said to Autosport. “After that, the chance for Romain to win was off.”

Boullier added they were able to be flexible with Grosjean’s strategy because of how well the Lotus treated its tires. But as they tried to maneuver Grosjean into a position where he could jump Vettel, he ended up stuck in more traffic.

Grosjean picked up two places during the course of the race. One, for overtaking Felipe Massa off the track, resulted in a drive-through penalty. After the race he was given a further 20-second penalty for colliding with Jenson Button.

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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