Magnussen leads McLaren’s charge in German GP qualifying

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Kevin Magnussen is quickly proving himself to be more than a match for experienced teammate Jenson Button at McLaren.

The young Dane qualified fourth for the German Grand Prix today at Hockenheim, finishing behind pole-sitter Nico Rosberg and the Williams duo of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa.

After a difficult run of form, the rookie appears to have found his feet in Formula 1. His career began with a sterling performance at the Australian Grand Prix where he finished second to Rosberg, but he has not finished in the top five since. However, he has been consistently scoring points lately, and is hoping to continue that form from fourth on the grid tomorrow.

I think we got everything out of the car in terms of set-up, and our strategy throughout qualifying was perfect,” Magnussen said. “Thanks to all the guys in the garage, they did a fantastic job.

“It was a great achievement to be able to hold off the Red Bulls, and I feel that we’re not too far away from some of the really strong guys.”

Teammate Jenson Button suffered yet another Q2 elimination today at Hockenheim. The 2009 world champion was bumped out of the top ten at the very last moment of the session by Force India driver and former McLaren man Sergio Perez. The Mexican eventually qualified tenth in the Q3 shootout.

“This hasn’t been an easy weekend for me, which is a shame because I really like it around here,” Button said. “I’ve been struggling with the car’s balance.

“In qualifying, I encountered traffic on my first run in Q2, and that cost me the opportunity to get into Q3. On my final Q2 run, I had a very different balance and a lot of oversteer. I wasn’t quick enough.

“Looking ahead to tomorrow, our long-run pace didn’t look too strong on Friday. We struggled in the hot conditions, but I think we’ll hopefully be better if the predicted cooler conditions roll in for 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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