Hamilton left frustrated by inability to overtake

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Lewis Hamilton has expressed his frustration after failing to pass cars that were on a different strategy during today’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, causing him to drop down the order and eventually bring his Mercedes home in seventh place.

“That was a tough race this evening for me,” Hamilton said. “My race just didn’t quite come together and I’m not really sure why as I gave it my all out there. I had some problems with grip and, of course, it’s so difficult to overtake here when you are in traffic but we also need to figure out why I’m not getting the maximum performance from the car at the moment.”

The Briton had started the race in fourth place after a broken wishbone cost him his fastest lap in qualifying, and he failed to make a good start to sit fifth after the first few laps. Nevertheless, he looked capable of outpacing both Ferraris who had been struggling all weekend at Yas Marina Circuit.

However, Ferrari opted to run their drivers deeper into the race and as a result cut the gap to Hamilton. When he was told to push, he found himself stuck behind Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez. Once the Mexican driver pitted, Hamilton was told to create a gap to Felipe Massa, but he was hindered by Adrian Sutil who was on the medium compound tire. The Mercedes driver did find a way past only for Sutil to re-take the position.

When Hamilton next attempted an overtake, Felipe Massa took advantage of the situation to pass both drivers. Hamilton eventually pitted, but he lost out at the end of the race to Fernando Alonso who had fresher and quicker tires. Despite catching one-stopping Paul di Resta, Hamilton failed to find a way past and was forced to settle for seventh place.

Nevertheless, Mercedes did extend their lead over Ferrari in the constructors’ championship by virtue of Nico Rosberg’s third place finish.

“A massive thank you to everyone for their efforts and it’s great that we have extended our lead for P2 in the constructors’ championship,” Hamilton said. “All points count but Nico did a really good job today to maximise the potential of the car. Hopefully the last two races will be stronger for me and I look forward to that challenge.”

Michael Andretti looking forward to new Australian Supercars venture

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If it seems like Michael Andretti is out to conquer the world, he is – kind of.

The former IndyCar star turned prolific team owner has won three of the last four Indianapolis 500s and five overall, second only to Roger Penske’s 16 Indy 500 triumphs.

Along the way, in addition to expanding his own IndyCar and Indy Lights operation, the son of Mario Andretti and the primary shareholder of Andretti Autosport has also branched out into Global RallyCross and Formula E racing in recent years.

And now, Andretti has further expanded his brand internationally, following Penske to the world down under — as in the world of Australian V8 Supercars.

Andretti has teamed with Supercars team owner Ryan Walkinshaw, along with veteran motorsports marketer and executive director of McLaren Technology Group and United Autosports owner and chairman, Zak Brown.

Together, the three have formed Walkinshaw Andretti United, based in suburban Melbourne, Australia. The new team kicks off the new season with the Adelaide 500 from March 1-4.

“It’s just extending our brand and putting it out there,” Andretti told NBC Sports. “The Supercars are such a great series.

“It all started with Zach Brown calling me and said ‘You have to talk to Ryan Walkinshaw. He’s got something interesting to talk to you about.’

“We talked and literally in like a half-hour, we said, ‘Let’s figure out how we’re going to make this work.’ And then Zack was like, ‘Hey, what about me?’ And then Zack came in as a partner and it’s cool now that we have the Walkinshaw Andretti United team.

“I’m really excited about that program, the guys at the shop are excited about it, we’ve been doing a lot of things to try and help it because it’s such a cool series and the cars are so cool.

“I went down there to Bathurst, which was to me one of the coolest tracks in the world. I wish I could have driven it, I really do. It looks like a blast.

“It’s amazing how big that series is when you go down there. It’s one of the biggest sports in Australia. It was just a great opportunity for us to extend our portfolio.”

Admittedly, Andretti had some extra incentive to want to get involved in the Supercars world: Penske joined forces with legendary Dick Johnson Racing in September 2014.

The organization came together quickly and the rebranded DJR Team Penske went on to win the 2017 V8 Supercars championship.

“Roger was down there the last few years,” Andretti said, adding that fact as incentive to get his own organization into the series. “So it’s cool to go race head-to-head with Roger. That was also in the back of our minds.”

This is no start-up venture for Andretti. The roots of the new venture began in 1990 as the Holden Racing Team, which went on to become one of the most successful organizations in Australian V8 Supercar racing, having won the drivers’ championship six times and the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship’s top race, the Bathurst 1000 (essentially Australia’s version of the Indy 500), seven times.

Last season, Holden Racing team morphed into Triple Eight Race Engineering and was renamed Mobil 1 HSV Racing.

And now the company has been renamed once again for the 2018 campaign under the Walkinshaw Andretti United banner.

The team will be composed of two Holden ZB Commodores with drivers James Courtney and Scott Pye, as well as a Porsche 911 GT3-R in the Australian GT championship.

What’s next for Andretti’s motorsports portfolio? Right now, it’s pretty full, but you can bet running for championships from Australia (Supercars) to globally (GRC) to Indianapolis (Indy 500) to the U.S. (Verizon IndyCar Series) are at the top of this year’s list.