Photo: MS&AD Andretti FE

Kamui Kobayashi set for Formula E debut with MS&AD Andretti

Leave a comment

The rebranded MS&AD Andretti Formula E team will run Toyota LMP1 factory ace, Super Formula driver and ex-Formula 1 driver Kamui Kobayashi in its No. 27 car for the 2017-2018 FIA Formula E Championship season opener at Hong Kong in a few weeks.

Japanese driver Kobayashi will make his series debut alongside Antonio Felix da Costa, retained by the team for another season, and in place of Tom Blomqvist, who was announced by the FIA in the team’s second seat when the full entry list was released but not by the team itself. A good read explaining the background and predicament of how the seat has weaved to Kobayashi, at least for Hong Kong, is here via e-racing365.com.

“First of all, I would like to thank to Michael, the whole Andretti Formula E team and MS&AD insurance for giving me this wonderful opportunity to race at the Hong Kong EPRIX,” Kobayashi said. “Andretti is one of the world most popular racing families and I am so excited to have my Formula E debut race under his name. I will be going to the race weekend without testing which is not an easy thing to be honest, but the team has been giving me all the support so no worrying at all and I am really looking forward to having good races there.”

Adrian Britten, Director of Brand & Communications for MS Amlin, the London-based international arm of Japanese global insurer MS&AD, added: “We are delighted that Kamui Kobayashi has joined the MS&AD Andretti team and are looking forward to real excitement on the track. The welcome return of a Japanese driver to the Formula E grid will hopefully encourage a future Formula E race in Japan.”

Blomqvist wasn’t mentioned in the release and it’ll be interesting to see if the MS&AD Andretti squad, which made a number of driver changes in season one but has since retained consistency in its lineup – first with Robin Frijns and Simona de Silvestro in season two, then Frijns and da Costa in season three – will opt to switch things up after Hong Kong.

Marco Andretti confident that fewer tests won’t hurt Andretti Autosport

Photo: IndyCar
Leave a comment

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.

Follow@KyleMLavigne