Lotus confident Silverstone will suit Renault-powered teams

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Lotus technical director Nick Chester is confident that the Renault-powered teams will not be at as much of a disadvantage at Silverstone as they were in Austria.

Since the beginning of the year, Renault’s engines have been down on power compared to those produced by Mercedes and Ferrari, and it has harmed many of its clients 2014 aspirations. Red Bull’s RB10 car is aerodynamically sound, but has trailed behind the Mercedes works team because of the difference in engines.

In Austria, the lack of power was particularly harmful. The top four finishers were all in Mercedes-powered cars, and eighth-placed Daniel Ricciardo was the only driver to finish inside the top ten with a Renault engine.

For Silverstone though, Chester believes that the issues will not be so obvious.

“Austria and Montreal are critical circuits in terms of power,” he said. “Silverstone on the other hand has a larger percentage of time spent in corners so engine influence is more diluted and the high-speed corners mean that downforce plays a bigger role.

“Obviously Silverstone is a very different track to Austria, with many more high-speed corners that will suit our car better. We’ve also got a few updates, including a front wing and floor, some different combinations of aerodynamic parts to try and some new set-up concepts to explore.

“It’s a home race for the team so we’d like nothing more than to put on a good show in front of our factory staff and all the loyal fans in the grandstands.”

Lotus last scored points in Monaco, and has been struggling since the Spanish Grand Prix to fight inside the top ten. However, with Silverstone appearing to suit the E22 car better, Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado could be set to score some much-needed points for the Enstone team on home soil.

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.