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Toro Rosso hits back at Renault over F1 power unit failures

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Scuderia Toro Rosso has hit back at Renault’s accusation that its repeated Formula 1 power unit failures are a team issue, hinting the two teams’ battle for P6 in the constructors’ championship could be playing a role.

Toro Rosso has suffered a number of reliability issues with its Renault power unit in recent weeks, and was hit with problems on both Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley’s cars during Friday practice in Brazil.

Renault F1 chief Cyril Abiteboil suggested the repeated issues were down to Toro Rosso, only for the customer team to fire back at its engine partner on Saturday morning.

“Due to recent accusations made in the media from the team’s engine supplier, Toro Rosso wishes to clarify the actual situation regarding the power units,” a statement from Toro Rosso reads.

”It comes as a big surprise to the team that Cyril Abiteboul has suggested to the media that the problems Toro Rosso suffers with the power unit are primarily team related, and the way in which the power unit is operated in the STR12 chassis.

”We would like to clarify that all the MGU-H and Shaft failures Toro Rosso has recently suffered are not associated with how the team is operating or with how the PU is integrated in the chassis.

”Nothing has been changed or altered in this installation during the 2017 season, other than cooling improvements mid-season. Since the summer break Toro Rosso has suffered continuous power unit related failures, and the resulting grid penalties has cost the team points and relative positions in the Constructors’ championship.

”One of the primary reasons for the issues we are seeing is the lack of new power unit parts available. In Toro Rosso’s case the team is constantly having to change parts from one PU to another during the weekend and, on many occasions, is forced to run old specification assemblies.

”The last race in Mexico saw only two cars out of six finish the race, highlighting the poor reliability.”

Toro Rosso offered a parting shot by noting the close battle between the teams for P6 in the F1 teams’ standings heading into the final two races of the season.

Toro Rosso currently sits five points clear of Renault, but has scored just one point since Singapore, allowing Renault to catch up.

”We mustn’t forget that they are fighting with Toro Rosso for a better position in the Constructors’ championship, as suggested by Mr. Abiteboul the situation may not be a coincidence, but it is certainly not due to STR’s car,” the statement says.

UPDATE, 10:25 a.m. ET: Dr. Helmut Marko, Red Bull motorsports consultant, offered a statement of his own in response to the Toro Rosso/Renault war of words. But within the statement, Marko did not name Renault by name.

“Over the last 10 years, many successful, we have been through every emotion with our current engine supplier. As usual at the end of another long season, emotions are running high but it is a valued relationship and will remain so,” Marko said.

“There has never been any question that we have not been treated fairly and equitably by our engine supplier. And that is still true today.”

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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