Sutil to receive five place grid penalty after gearbox change

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Adrian Sutil has received a five place grid penalty after changing his gearbox ahead of qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix on Saturday.

The German driver is currently fighting to secure his future in Formula One after a difficult run of form that has seen him pick up just three points since the British Grand Prix back in July. That said, these are the only points that Force India as a whole have scored in this time period as Paul di Resta’s form has nose-dived thanks to five consecutive retirements.

During the final practice session at Suzuka on Saturday morning, Sutil made an error on the exit of Spoon, causing his Force India to spear into the wall on the left-hand side of the track and causing damage to his car, warranting a new gearbox.

This incident did end his session but the team was able to repair the car in time for qualifying, but the lost running did prove costly as Sutil could only qualify in seventeenth place.

As a result of the penalty, Sutil will start the Japanese Grand Prix from last on the grid. Jules Bianchi had qualified last and does carry a ten place grid penalty into the event after picking up three reprimands across the course of the season. However, as his penalty was received before Sutil’s, it is applied to the results in that order, meaning that the Marussia driver actually makes up a position.

Charles Pic is also subject to a ten place penalty due to his tally of reprimands, but he will drop just one place on the grid to P20 behind teammate Giedo van der Garde.

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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