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Vettel: Ferrari chief’s criticisms of F1 driver errors ‘fair enough’

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Sebastian Vettel believes that Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne’s comments about driver errors playing a role in costing the Italian marque in the Formula 1 championship races are “fair enough”, having seen his title hopes end two weeks ago in Mexico.

Vettel led the F1 drivers’ championship from the opening race until the Italian Grand Prix in September, with a collapse over the trio of Asian races that followed to deal a heavy blow to his hopes of a fifth world title.

Lewis Hamilton was confirmed as 2017 world champion at the last race in Mexico, wrapping up what was tipped to be a close-fought championship with two races to spare, much to Marchionne’s disappointment.

The Ferrari chairman blamed its defeat in both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships on a mix of reliability issues and driver errors, appearing to hint at Vettel’s on-track clashes in Baku and Singapore.

When asked about Marchionne’s comments, Vettel told the official F1 website: “I think what he said is fair enough.

“Of course you would do things differently – otherwise you wouldn’t learn from mistakes.

“I think we all agree that we didn’t have the season that we could have had – or should have had – for obvious reasons.”

Despite his title defeat being confirmed, Vettel is relishing the chance to strike back and end his winless drought dating back to the Hungarian Grand Prix in July.

“The moment you get into the car the musing about the ifs and buts of the past 18 races stops abruptly and you focus again only on the driving,” Vettel said.

“That is why I am really looking forward to these last two races.

“Maybe losing out is a bit easier to come to terms with when there are still two races to go than losing at the very last race, and having to go home with a defeat.”

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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