Perez expecting intense racing in Belgium

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McLaren driver Sergio Perez expects another intense grand prix at Spa-Francorchamps next weekend as Formula One returns after its summer break for the Belgian Grand Prix.

The team has endured a difficult start to the season, currently lying sixth in the constructors’ championship and struggling for outright pace with Jenson Button already writing off any hopes of a McLaren victory at Spa next weekend. However, Perez is pleased with the progress that has been made.

“We had a positive race in Hungary, which was a nice way to end the first half of the season,” Perez explained in a team statement, “Hopefully, it gave everybody within the team the motivation to return to work after the summer break with renewed focus. I’m certainly feeling incredibly strong and refreshed and am really looking forward to getting back into the cockpit and back to work.”

Like many drivers, Perez is a fan of the circuit as it poses a unique challenge thanks to its rapid changes in elevation and high-speed sections.

“It’s such a great place – I love fast corners, and the feeling of taking to the car to the limit around such a big and long circuit is incredible.

“The racing at Spa – particularly with KERS Hybrid and DRS – is usually pretty intense, so I’ll be looking forward to another exciting weekend.”

Perez has failed to finish before in Belgium, retiring from both of his previous grands prix at Spa. However, the Mexican driver did start an impressive P4 for Sauber before being caught-up in the accident at turn one caused by Romain Grosjean, resulting in the Lotus driver receiving a one-race ban.

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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