Getty Images

Vettel doubts extra Pirelli testing gave him major tire advantage

Leave a comment

Sebastian Vettel doubts that his extra test running with Pirelli last year to help test the 2017-spec Formula 1 tires has given him a notable advantage over his rivals at the start of the new season.

Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull worked with Pirelli through 2016 using ‘mule cars’ to help develop the Italian tire supplier’s new compounds after a redesign of F1’s tires to make them 25 per cent bigger.

Vettel completed the most testing of any driver, and was one of the few to offer no complaints about managing the ultra-soft compound in Australia at the F1 season-opener.

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton decided to pit early from the lead in Australia as he struggled with the ultra-softs, allowing Vettel to move into the lead and trigger a strategy that saw Ferrari win for the first time in 18 months.

While Vettel’s extended testing with Pirelli was cited as a reason for his victory in Australia, the German doubts he gained a huge amount from the running, but was happy to have been involved.

“I’m not sure. I think maybe the right answer is ‘no’,” Vettel said when asked if he had a better understanding of the tires as a result of his test running.

“The reason why I’m generally happy to do it is because I love driving. So, when there’s an opportunity to test, even though testing can sometimes be a bit dull and boring.

“But still, you’re driving the car and that’s much better than sitting on the bike for a couple of hours or whatever training to be fit enough to drive the car. I think that generally track time is limited so every opportunity you get.

“That’s personal, but I can’t understand why you would reject it and as I said, I’m happy to drive the car and I think there’s always something you learn.

“So for sure the days I did last year with Pirelli to help them get feedback for the tires etc., for sure they also helped me.”

Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg also said that he doubted there was a huge amount to be gained in the private tests, particularly as the cars used varied from the 2017 models that are now racing the tires.

“Obviously it was these mule cars which were not fully representative and the tires were also not, I believe, the exact spec that we have now,” Hulkenberg said.

“But, you know, there’s always something that you can learn, and pick up, that you can use for your advantage. But that’s in the past. It’s history.”

Pippa Mann returns to Dale Coyne Racing for seventh Indianapolis 500 bid

Photo courtesy Dale Coyne Racing
Leave a comment

Pippa Mann announced Tuesday that she plans to drive in her seventh Indianapolis 500 on May 27.

The native of Ipswich, England will once again return to race for Dale Coyne Racing, with new sponsorship by Donate Life Indiana.

She had previously been sponsored the last four years in the 500 by the Susan G. Komen organization. She’ll continue to carry logos of that organization on the front wing of her car in the 500, Mann said.

Mann, 34, has raced six times in the 500, with a best finish being 17th in last year’s race.

Mann will fill out the four-car Dale Coyne Racing field for the Greatest Spectacle In Racing. She’ll be teammates with Sebastien Bourdais (No. 18 Team SealMaster Honda in a partnership with Vasser-Sullivan), Pietro Fittipaldi (No. 19 The Paysafe Car Honda) and Conor Daly (No. 17 U.S. Air Force Honda in a partnership with Thom Burns Racing).

Mann will make her first practice laps for this year’s 500 on Tuesday, May 15. Qualifying is May 19-20.

Mann’s No. 63 Honda will have a significantly different look than in the last few years. Instead of pink, her car will feature a silvery blue and light green paint scheme wrapped around a Donate Life Indiana logo.

“I am honored to have been asked to drive the Donate Life car this May and to partner with Donate Life Indiana as an ambassador to raise awareness on our mission to help reach even more Hoosiers through our education efforts,” Mann said in a media release. “This is obviously a campaign with a pretty deep personal meaning for me, and I am humbled to have the opportunity to join the racers carrying this cause forward.

“I also want to thank Dale and Gail Coyne for once again giving me this opportunity to pilot one of their entries this May. This will be my sixth year with Dale Coyne Racing and I’m truly grateful that they allow me to do this every year.”

Mann will also serve as a spokesperson for the organization and to raise awareness for youth education initiatives in Indiana, most notably organ, tissue and eye donor registration.

In addition to her driving duties in the 102nd running of the 500, Mann will also visit schools across the Hoosier State to speak about the importance of organ donation and transplantation.

“Our education team is committed to partnering with Pippa and students and teachers across the state to bring the message of organ donation and transplantation to as many students as possible,” said Steve Johnson, board chairman for Donate Life Indiana.

Follow @JerryBonkowski