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Andretti Autosport driver Alexander Rossi says teams that have not participated in IndyCar’s 2018 pre-season testing with Honda or Chevrolet have a “big mountain to climb”.
IndyCar has introduced a universal aerokit for the coming season – requiring sizeable changes to electronics, radiators and key elements of the turbocharger – and both Honda and Chevrolet have had five manufacturer tests allocated.
Chevrolet has worked with Penske and Ed Carpenter Racing, while Honda has partnered with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing.
Rossi told Autosport that those teams will have had a head-start over Andretti and other IndyCar competitors.
“It’s a big mountain for us to climb, even in a four-car team,” said Rossi, speaking after a test at Sebring last week.
“I’ve got to admit it was a big surprise to realise the difference in the number of test days between ourselves and some of the other teams.
“And it’s also left us in the situation where it’s really hard to tell where we stand compared with the others.
“This was a private test, only one of the manufacturers was here.
“We’ve got another day at Sebring on January 24, then the IndyCar open test at Phoenix [February 9-10], and then another day at Sebring, and that’s it for us until first practice at St Petersburg. That really is tough, you know?
“I think it’s obvious Andretti Autosport has done a really good job back at the shop in terms of understanding the car – we rolled off really well.
“But some other teams have had five to eight more days on track compared with us, and that’s an advantage for sure.”
Dale Coyne Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais was also testing at Sebring and believes the lack of testing for his team means it is only scratching the surface of ints understanding of the 2018 package.
“The only work we could do before this test was for Craig [Hampson, race engineer] and the engineering team to come up with simulations and estimates – or guesstimates,” he said.
“But you know, it’s so difficult without any track time before then. You at least need the first set of data to work from and that’s something we only got for ourselves yesterday.
“So yeah, we’re just scratching the surface at the moment, that was our first read, and we’ll definitely have to go back and see if we can start to find the sweet spot.”
Bourdais handed his car over to one-time Indy Lights race-winner Zachary Claman De Melo, who Autosport understands is the favourite to take over the seat vacated by Ed Jones for 2018.
Former Haas Formula 1 driver Esteban Gutierrez’s last hopes of an IndyCar seat looked to be at DCR after Ed Carpenter Racing signed Jordan King, meaning he is unlikely to make a full-time return.
IndyCar’s planned Mexico race, which was believed to have been agreed on the condition of a Mexican driver racing full-time in the series, fell through last year.
Autosport has also learned that Adrian Fernandez is no longer Gutierrez’s driver manager.