Hulkenberg: We’re in good shape

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Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg is confident that the team is in good shape ahead of the new F1 season, which gets underway in just fourteen days’ time at the Australian Grand Prix.

The German driver, who returns to Force India in 2014 after a year away at Sauber, finished testing today in Bahrain in fourth place on the timesheets and 74 laps under his belt. Although he did not manage to complete a race simulation, Hulkenberg is pleased with the work that the team has completed across the winter period.

“The final day of testing went pretty well,” he explained. “In the end we didn’t do the race simulation, but we did some long runs and signed off a lot of other things on the job list. We didn’t do as many laps as yesterday, but we still made progress and learned some new things.

“It’s been two good days for me and I’m feeling pretty satisfied. You always want more time to prepare, but I think we’re in good shape. The car has come a long way since the first Jerez test and we have made progress every day.”

Like the other Mercedes-powered teams, Force India has excelled during the testing period. Sergio Perez finished as the quickest driver on the first two days of the final test in Bahrain, and with such a capable driver line-up in 2014, the team could be set to make a big step forwards and improve on sixth place in the championship last season.

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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