STP 500 - Practice

Joey Logano: “We’re concerned” about more tire issues

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It took him some time, but Team Penske’s Joey Logano appears to have finally gotten a grip on Texas Motor Speedway.

Prior to last year’s pair of races on the 1.5-mile oval, “Sliced Bread” had only one Top-5 finish in his first nine starts there. But then came a fifth-place finish in last year’s spring race and then a third-place finish in the fall.

However, Logano and Team Penske are keeping an eye out for more tire issues this weekend at TMS after being one of several teams afflicted by tire failures earlier this month at Fontana.

A broken rear-end gear relegated Logano to a 39th-place finish in the race, but teammate Brad Keselowski suffered a tire failure with less than 10 laps to go that knocked him from the Top 5 to a 26th-place result.

Goodyear has said that they’re confident their Texas tire combination, which features a new version of its ‘multi-zone’ technology for the right sides, will hold up just fine. But that doesn’t appear to have completely alleviated Logano’s fears.

“We’re concerned this weekend for sure for when we get out there,” Logano said today at TMS. “This new package, with the added downforce and added load on these cars – we’re going faster –  it puts a little more strain on these tires and this is one of those race tracks that if you run on that white line, you’re catching some of that apron and we really think that’s what was blowing the tires out.

“You have a lot of camber and then when you put it down on the apron, it’s basically like adding more and it blows out the shoulder of the tire there. With that the added left-rear camber also, they start doing that on low air-pressures for awhile it starts to break away the tread from the sidewall there. Yeah, it’s a concern this weekend for sure.”

Logano admitted that he’d personally like to see a “little tougher” tire to help cut down on the failures but noted that a visit to Goodyear’s factory over the off-season enlightened him on how tricky the manufacturer’s job is to create proper tires for each track.

“They’ve got a lot of really smart people over [at Goodyear], but our cars ask a lot out of a tire,” he said. “I’ve got the most faith in those guys that anyone can have and that’s why I try to help them as much as I can is to give them the best insight of what we’re fighting.

“I know as Team Penske, we give them all the information we possibly can to help them make decisions when they’re back at their shop.”

As for the prospect of the tire issues migrating to the left-side tires if the right-sides did get toughened up, Logano isn’t sure that would be the case.

“I think the issue comes from running on the apron or having a lot of camber at low air-pressures,” he said. “I think that’s where they have the separation issue. I don’t believe the right side tire is gonna change what we’ve got on the left side for that particular issue.

“There might be a different issue I don’t know about that may pop up or may not, but I think for that particular issue, the right side tire shouldn’t have anything to do with that.”

Haas reveals VF-17 ahead of sophomore Formula 1 season

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The Haas Formula 1 team has officially revealed its new car, the VF-17, ahead of its sophomore season on the grid.

NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas took his eponymous operation into F1 last year, enjoying an impressive first campaign during which it exceeded all expectations.

The VF-16 carried Romain Grosjean to 29 points, including a fifth-place finish in Bahrain and an impressive charge to sixth on debut in Australia.

Its successor, the VF-17, hit the track for the first time on Saturday in Barcelona, with images being leaked on Twitter ahead of its official unveil on Sunday.

The new car retains a similar livery to the VF-16, with the Haas Automation company colors of grey, red and black all featuring, but the chassis itself sports an aggressive new look following an overhaul of the technical regulations.

“I think the pedal box is the same, but all the rest is very different from last year’s car,” Haas team principal Guenther Steiner said.

“You always try to make a faster car, which is normally a lighter car. Now we can put on more ballast and get better weight distribution. The aero is completely new, as are the tires, so we needed to have some built-in adjustability.

“Aesthetically, the car has a more aggressive look. It’s lighter and more aerodynamically efficient. Everything we learned from our first car has been applied to our new car.”

Grosjean will be joined at Haas this year by Kevin Magnussen, who has previously raced for McLaren and Renault and has signed a multi-year deal with the American team.

McLaren MCL32 F1 car gets first track test in Barcelona

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McLaren Formula 1 drivers Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne both got their first taste of the new MCL32 car in Barcelona on Sunday ahead of pre-season testing.

McLaren unveiled the MCL32 on Friday, with the biggest talking point being its striking new orange livery that harks back to the team’s racing roots.

Prior to the start of collective testing on Monday at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, McLaren took advantage of its filming day allowance to turn in some laps on Sunday.

Alonso got the first run in the Honda-powered MCL32 before handing over to Vandoorne in the afternoon.

Red Bull unveils RB13 Formula 1 car ahead of testing

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Red Bull has become the latest team to unveil its new car for the 2017 Formula 1 season, revealing the Renault-powered RB13 on Sunday morning.

Red Bull enters 2017 after returning to the top step of the podium last year, taking two race wins en route to second place in the constructors’ championship.

Daniel Ricciardo finished third in the drivers’ standings behind the dominant Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, while teammate Max Verstappen became F1’s youngest ever winner at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Both drivers return for 2017 and will pilot the RB13, which sports an aggressive new look following an overhaul of the technical regulations in F1.

Red Bull revealed the new car with a snazzy launch video playing on the number 13, saying that its new RB13 could be “unlucky for some”.

The RB13 – aptly launched at 13:13 local time in Barcelona – is much wider than its predecessor and also sports the ‘shark fin’ engine cover that also appears on a number of the other cars that will race this year. The car also retains the sleek matte look that the team debuted in 2016.

The RB13 will hit the track for the first time on Monday with the start of pre-season testing in Barcelona, Spain.

More to follow.

Otmar Szafnauer confident new F1 rules will create ‘uncertainty’

NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 22:  Sergio Perez (L) of Mexico and Sahara Force India and Esteban Ocon of France and Sahara Force India unveil the VJM10 car during the Sahara Force India Formula One team launch at Silverstone on February 22, 2017 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Force India chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer is confident that Formula 1’s new technical regulations will create uncertainty and allow teams to move up the pecking order.

Force India enjoyed its best season in F1 last year, finishing the year fourth in the constructors’ championship behind only Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari.

For 2017, new technical regulations are set to make the cars significantly quicker over a single lap, prompting teams to place great focus on preparing for the upcoming campaign.

Speaking following the launch of Force India’s new car, the VJM10, Szafnauer was positive about the chances that the new rules would bring for both the tam and the sport.

“Whenever you mix up the rules it’s bound to introduce some uncertainty. There’s the opportunity for teams to achieve or underachieve and if that happens it will disrupt the status quo,” Szafnauer said.

“Will the new rules create better racing? Only time will tell. The cars will be significantly faster – not down the straights, but through the corners – but the braking zones will be reduced and that won’t necessarily have a positive impact on overtaking opportunities.

“I certainly like the aesthetics of the new cars because they remind me of the racing cars of old. I’m sure they will look spectacular on the track too.”

When asked about Force India’s objectives for the year ahead, Szafnauer remained coy, but said that the early signs within the team were positive.

“As a team we have some internal objectives, but it’s very hard for me to verbalize those ambitions because it’s impossible to know what our competitors could achieve given such a huge change of regulations,” Szafnauer said.

“What I can say is that we have met our internal targets for the car – for example in terms of the aero numbers we set as the goal for the launch car. How those targets compare to our competitors is impossible to say until we hit the track.”

Force India will enjoy its first public run with the VJM10 car in Barcelona on Monday at the start of collective pre-season testing.