Stewart: “No instruction manual” with Gen-6 cars


Tony Stewart’s victory last season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway may give him confidence as he prepares to defend his Kobalt Tools 400 title tomorrow – but beyond that, it’s hard to say.

The debut of the new Generation-6 cars has forced teams to throw all their old notebooks out the window and re-learn everything. This weekend at Vegas marks the first time the Gen-6 will be on a 1.5-mile oval, which serve as the setting for almost a third of the 36 Cup races.

And with no past data to fall back on, Stewart and the rest of the Cup garage can’t escape the tricky process of trying to find the new car’s sweet spot.

“The one thing you guys have got to understand when we all built these new cars, not one of them came with an instructional manual,” Stewart told the media at LVMS on Friday. “You literally have to figure it out as you go.

“It’s impossible to give you an answer — an accurate answer. It is literally a work in progress.”

Stewart took part in a Thursday test session at LVMS to try and gain knowledge that could make that process go quicker for him and his No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing team. He believes that it’ll all be worth it in the end, saying that the Gen-6 has plenty of upside.

“I personally think it’s off to a great start, and it’s got a lot of potential,” said the three-time Cup champion. “We had good racing, we had a good finish, and everybody is going to keep learning.”

Stewart will start ninth on Sunday.

F1: Red Bull Racing confirms switch to Honda engines next season

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Honda will become Red Bull’s engine supplier from next season after the Formula One team confirmed its anticipated split with Renault on Tuesday.

The Japanese manufacturer will supply engines for 2019 and 2020, and Red Bull team principal Christian Horner hailed the deal as “an exciting new phase” in the bid to return to the top of F1.

“After careful consideration and evaluation, we are certain this partnership with Honda is the right direction for the team,” Horner said in a team statement. “We have been impressed by Honda’s commitment to F1, by the rapid steps they have made in recent times with our (feeder) team Toro Rosso.”

It is a boost for Honda, which was unceremoniously dumped by McLaren at the end of last year.

Honda has started this season brightly as engine provider for Toro Rosso, and this may have been a key factor in Red Bull finally ditching Renault.

“Honda’s alignment with both Red Bull Formula One teams provides enormous potential,” Horner said. “Honda will have access to a wealth of data from both outfits, with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing leading the way, and the opportunities for faster, more effective and more competitive development are doubled.”

The deal brings to an end Red Bull’s 12-year partnership with Renault.

Although relations became increasingly strained between the two parties in recent years, it was once a dream partnership as Red Bull and Renault won four straight drivers’ and constructors’ championships with Sebastian Vettel behind the wheel from 2010-13.

During that glory era, Vettel and teammate Mark Webber won 47 grand prix. Since 2013, results have somewhat dried up and there have been only 10 race wins.

“We have sometimes had our differences but Renault has always worked tirelessly and to the best of its ability to provide us with a competitive power unit,” Horner said.

He was not always quite so complimentary about Renault. He has regularly and publicly criticized Renault’s reliability in recent years – although it has been hard to judge sometimes.

Red Bull showed good speed toward the end of last season when Max Verstappen won two races, and teammate Daniel Ricciardo won this season’s Chinese GP with a brilliant drive. The difference in speed between Red Bull and Mercedes appears less than before, although Ferrari remains noticeably quicker.

Verstappen’s form has picked up after a poor start to 2018, marred by crashes, and he has taken third place in two of the past three races.

Meanwhile, McLaren’s partnership with Renault has not been as successful as they anticipated after dropping Honda following three fruitless seasons together.

Two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso has failed to finish the past two races and has yet to place higher than fifth. Renault teammate Nico Hulkenberg has a best finish of fourth place.