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MRTI: pre-season testing Day 4 notebook

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The final day of pre-season testing for the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires saw the top series in the ladder take to the 2.3-mile road course at Homestead-Miami Speedway. After running on the 1.5-mile oval on Friday, the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires had its first and only day on the road course on Monday.

Monday’s running saw the field increase to seven cars, with Belardi Auto Racing joining in with drivers Santiago Urrutia and Aaron Telitz (of note: Juncos Racing’s Alfonso Celis Jr. did not do any laps on Monday).

And it was Belardi driver Urrutia leading the way, turning the fastest lap of the day, at 1:14.502, during Session 2, bettering Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Norman by nearly half a second in doing so.

However, Urrutia pointed out that his fast lap came as the result of a little help, in the form of push-to-pass.
“Everyone used the push-to-pass at the end, including me, so I think (teammate Aaron Telitz) was quickest today,” he asserted
Urrutia added that, despite the speed, he and the team struggled to hit the setup exactly right, something he acknowledged they’ll need to do to battle for the Indy Lights title.
“We’ve been working on setup for St. Pete and we’re pretty good, though we need to fix some problems that showed up today,” he explained. “I wasn’t completely comfortable in the car today because of that so we’ll get those things fixed before St. Pete. It’s going to be tough this year, because anyone can win the championship. You see from the times today that it’s going to be really tight. To win the championship you have to always be right there – win when you have the car to win, and if you don’t, be right there in the top-five.”
The next official on-track sessions for the series in the Mazda Road to Indy will come at the season-opening weekend on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida on March 9-11.

Mercedes: F1 teams need to work together to avoid split

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said Friday that Formula One teams have a responsibility to try to overcome their differences over the future of the sport in the face of a threat by Ferrari to quit because of a number of proposed changes.

Bernie Ecclestone, who ran F1 for 40 years before being replaced by new owners Liberty Media last year, has raised the possibility that Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne could walk away from F1 and form a breakaway series over Liberty’s future vision for the sport.

Ferrari is unhappy with Liberty’s proposal to simplify engines and redistribute prize money among F1 teams after the current contract with teams expires at the end of 2020.

Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene would not comment on the specifics of Marchionne’s previous comments at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Friday, but said: “My only suggestion, please take him seriously.”

Wolff is also taking the possibility of Ferrari walking away seriously. He told Britain’s Press Association before the Australian GP that he agreed with Marchionne’s concerns and that Formula One can’t afford to alienate Ferrari or lose the team.

“Don’t mess with Sergio Marchionne,” he said. “Formula One needs Ferrari much more than Ferrari needs Formula One.”

Wolff was more diplomatic on Friday, saying he hopes all sides could come together for the good of the sport.

“I think this as much a battle on track as much as it is a fight off track for an advantage,” he said. “It is clear the current governance and how the rules are being made is not very functional. There’s too much different opinions and agendas on the table and we need to sort it for 2021 for the best interest of the sport.”

Red Bull boss Christian Horner agreed there are too many competing agendas, suggesting that the FIA-Formula One’s governing body-and Liberty Media come together to decide on a set of regulations and financial framework for the next contract and the teams can then decide if they want to accept it or not.

“Trying to get a consensus between teams that have varying objectives, different set-ups, is going to be impossible,” he said. “It’s history repeating itself. It happens every five or six years, every time the Concorde Agreement comes up for renewal.”

Tempers also flared during Friday’s media conference over another issue of contention between the teams – Ferrari’s recent hiring of FIA’s ex-safety director, Laurent Mekies.

Horner believes Ferrari broke an agreement among teams at a recent meeting to institute a 12-month waiting period for any former employee of FIA or FOM (Formula One Management) to be able to start working for one of F1’s teams. The concern is that former FIA staff who go to work for a specific team could share secrets from other teams.

“Certain teams were pushing for that period to be three years, but in the end it was agreed upon being 12 months,” he said. “It almost makes those meetings pointless if we can’t agree on something and action it.”

Arrivabene defended Ferrari’s move, saying Mekies would not join its team until after a six-month “gardening leave” period.

“There is nothing wrong with that because we were absolutely respecting the local law, the Swiss local law where Laurent was hired,” he said.