It’s been two years since Kobayashi’s Suzuka podium with Sauber (VIDEO)

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Oh, how long ago two years can seem.

Yeah, Sebastian Vettel and Felipe Massa went 1-2 in the 2012 Japanese Grand Prix – a race that marked the beginning of the end of Fernando Alonso’s title aspirations that season.

But the star of that year’s race in Suzuka was Kamui Kobayashi, who in one of if not the most brilliant drives of his career held off Jenson Button for the final podium position.

The result marked the second podium finish for a Japanese driver in his home race, as Kobayashi followed the mark set by Aguri Suzuki in 1990.

Kobayashi’s result, two years on, stands out even more given his and Sauber’s respective journeys since.

The result marked Sauber’s last podium finish in F1. Although Nico Hulkenberg brought them the majority of their points in 2013, the 2014 season has been an uphill battle and currently has not seen either Adrian Sutil or Esteban Gutierrez score points. To be fair, both Hulkenberg and Gutierrez scored points in Suzuka last year, with sixth and seventh place.

Kobayashi, meanwhile, took a one-year detour into the FIA World Endurance Championship with AF Corse in a Ferrari F458 Italia, before returning to F1 this year with Caterham. Kobayashi has had his seat under threat and was pulled out before the Belgian Grand Prix, and hasn’t been able to provide the same level of heroics on-track he achieved with Sauber and Toyota.

But as we head to Suzuka this week, it’s only fitting to look back at the good old days for both parties.

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.