The fourth full-time car for Andretti Autosport is one of the hot-button items this Verizon IndyCar Series offseason, and while budget isn’t fully finalized for the car yet, team principal Michael Andretti still hopes to have it completed shortly.
“We’re working on it; we’re working on four, and hoping for five (cars),” Andretti told MotorSportsTalk in an interview promoting the Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana this weekend.
The team is finalizing its commercial partnership with United Fiber & Data, which served as primary sponsor for both James Hinchcliffe in IndyCar and Matthew Brabham in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires this past season. Hinchcliffe has since departed for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, where he will become that team’s lead driver.
“We’re working on (UFD) right now,” Andretti said. “But we couldn’t get that done in time for Hinch. I told Hinch, ‘Don’t let the other opportunity go away, because I can’t guarantee it.’ So unfortunately we couldn’t get it done in time for him, but we’re getting close.”
Andretti spoke very highly of Daniel Abt, the German GP2 and FIA Formula E driver who tested for the team a couple weeks ago at Barber Motorsports Park.
“Daniel, we were all very impressed with him,” Andretti said. “He didn’t put a wheel wrong. He was right on pace. He provided great feedback and is a nice guy. We had very good feedback on him.”
In terms of other programs, while a Mazda Road to Indy return in both Indy Lights and Pro Mazda is expected, a sports car program is not on the front burner.
Andretti said “there’s a chance” the team could be involved in either the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship or Pirelli World Challenge, but no announcement is imminent of a program there.
As for a quick reflection on the 2014 season, Andretti said even despite Ryan Hunter-Reay’s Indianapolis 500 victory, he was frustrated to not have the team achieve more.
“We left a lot on the table,” he admitted. “We had cars that should have been in championship hunt. It was great to come away with the Indy 500.
“But we were in a lot of other races, where due to bad luck or whatever it was, didn’t get the results. Hopefully we can capitalize on the times when we can win more often.”