Sutil: F1 more difficult with testing restrictions

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Adrian Sutil is frustrated by the strict testing restrictions that are currently in place in Formula 1, believing that they do not allow drivers to perform to the best of their ability.

The Sauber driver has raced in F1 since 2007, when testing restrictions were more lenient and teams were allowed to conduct more running over the winter and throughout the season.

Now, in an attempt to stop costs from spiralling, teams are limited to just three pre-season tests and four during the season. This figure is set to fall for 2015, but Sutil feels that the sport would benefit from lifting these restrictions.

“Sometimes I think we’re definitely not driving enough,” Sutil explained in Hungary. “Just from race to race, we have a set of softs, a set of hards and that’s it. Then you go to qualifying and do this a few more laps, and that’s it.

“It would be nice to just drive a little bit more, and also with the tires we have, they last only one lap and it would be much nicer to have a tire that is stronger and lasts longer.”

With the new technical regulations for 2014 causing a great change in the feel and driving style of the cars in F1, pre-season testing was more valuable than ever. However, Sutil does not feel that the drivers had enough time, and although he is still enjoying Formula 1, he believes that the limits on testing offers less of a chance to impress on track.

“I still enjoy it,” he said. “There are changes over the years, some you like, some you don’t like. From a driver’s point of view, you are always most happy when you drive and can test and you know the car really well.

“It’s quite difficult in Formula 1 right now, especially after the winter tests when you have three or four days with this kind of cars and then you have to deliver. Very difficult, yes, then you do mistakes in the race, and you’re not good enough.

“It would be nice to drive more.”

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.