Just one week on from his crash in Germany, Lewis Hamilton has suffered yet more bad luck after his engine caught fire during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix today.
Following his brake failure during Q1 at the German Grand Prix, the Briton will once again have to fight through the field after his engine caught fire before he had the chance to set a time on Saturday in Hungary.
Mercedes confirmed that a fuel leak sparked the fire on his car, but the team is yet to confirm what caused this leak.
Hamilton was told by the team to abandon his car on pit entry to allow the fire marshals on hand to extinguish the blaze. Without setting a time, he will start from the back row of the grid tomorrow, although a pit lane start is perhaps more likely considering the damage done to his car.
After dominating all three practice sessions at the Hungaroring, Hamilton will be gutted to have lost out on pole position once again, with his last coming at the Spanish Grand Prix in May.
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.”
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.