Lewis Hamilton “couldn’t be in a better place”

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Lewis Hamilton is feeling in good shape ahead of this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix, claiming that he couldn’t be better upon F1’s return to Europe.

The Briton has endured a tough season so far, being embroiled in a title fight with teammate Nico Rosberg. This appeared to spill over in Monaco, but since then, relations have improved and Hamilton is now feeling happy again.

“I’m great, excited,” he said, smiling. “Couldn’t be in a better place really. Had a good couple of weeks, and had a bit of a busy week this week, but I’m excited just to get back in the car. This is quite a relaxed weekend.”

However, he still believes that there is room for improvement at Mercedes as he looks to bounce back from a retirement at the Canadian Grand Prix. The non-score caused him to drop to 22 points behind Rosberg at the top of the drivers’ championship, but he still feels positive ahead of this weekend’s race.

“At the moment, knowing that we have a lot of races ahead of us, it’s not concerning me too much,” Hamilton said when asked about the DNF in Montreal. “Of course, if it was later on in the season and we were where we were, we would be a little bit different.

“In one sense, it’s comforting for me to know that I feel like I’ve done my optimum up until now, but there’s still room for improvement. And as a team, also, it’s in some ways positive for us to know that we can still improve.

“If we were perfect, then it wouldn’t be fun for the rest of the year.”

Hamilton is chasing his fifth win of the season in Austria this weekend, but only his first since the Spanish Grand Prix over a month ago.

Like all but four of the drivers in Canada, Hamilton has not raced in F1 at the Red Bull Ring before, but that should matter little in his fight for the race win on Sunday afternoon.

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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