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Pirelli cancels tire test with McLaren at Interlagos amid safety fears

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Pirelli’s planned Formula 1 tire test with McLaren at Interlagos has been canceled over safety fears following another robbery attempt on Sunday night following the Brazilian Grand Prix.

F1 officials moved to shore up security measures at Interlagos over the weekend after a Mercedes minibus carrying team members was held at gunpoint while leaving the circuit on Friday night, with valuables being stolen.

Incidents continued to occur through the race weekend, with a Pirelli vehicle being targeted after the race on Sunday, flaring up concerns about the planned tire test on Tuesday and Wednesday with McLaren.

Pirelli confirmed via a statement on Twitter on Monday that the test had been canceled as a result of the ongoing safety concerns, with McLaren, the FIA and F1 officials all supporting the call.

McLaren driver Stoffel Vandoorne had been due to split running with junior Lando Norris at Interlagos through the tire test.

Pirelli’s final tire running before the 2018 season will come following the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in two weeks’ time, with two days of testing scheduled at the Yas Marina Circuit.

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.