Shakedown runs for new Mercedes, Toro Rosso cars

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The official start of Formula One testing in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain isn’t until Tuesday, but Mercedes and Scuderia Toro Rosso have taken their respective 2014 cars out for short shakedown runs.

According to a tweet from Mercedes, their new W05 machine ran 40 kilometers today at the Silverstone circuit in England. At the controls was Nico Rosberg (pictured), who said on Twitter: “Such a great feeling. Just drove my new silver arrow for the first time. It looks quick, but I don’t know if it is quick yet!”

Per Mercedes, Rosberg and teammate Lewis Hamilton will alternate each day of testing in Jerez, with Hamilton testing the W05 on Days 1 and 3 and Rosberg in for Days 2 and 4.

Meanwhile, Toro Rosso confirmed that they got in a filming day with both of their drivers, Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniil Kvyat, driving the new Renault-powered STR9 at the Misano circuit in Italy.

Both squads are set to officially launch their new challengers in Jerez – Toro Rosso going on Monday, Mercedes following on Tuesday.

Lest anyone think the two sides have somehow committed a violation of the F1 rule book by running early laps with their 2014 cars, this year’s Sporting Regulations state that each team can complete two promotional events outside of official testing during the year; those particular events cannot go over 100 kilometers in length and only Pirelli demo tires can be used in them.

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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