We have quite a few readers from across the Pond who started following this site during the Indycar season, where Brits Dan Wheldon, Justin Wilson, Darren Manning and Jay Howard gave us plenty to write about.
Since then, one of the blue chip teams of the IRL, Andretti Green, has taken over the USA’s A1GP entry and plans to alternate two of American open wheel racing’s biggest names, Marco Andretti and Danica Patrick, as its two drivers.
For this weekend’s races in Chengdu, China, it’s Marco’s turn – and he’s thrown himself into the PR challenges of representing his country and the racer’s challenge of learning a new car and circuit.
“They were certainly really difficult circumstances when I first went out. If it wasn’t dusty at any point around the lap, it was wet,” said the 21-year-old, describing several points on the circuit where natural springs can cause problems.
“From my short initial experience of the car, though, I can tell that it will be really nice to drive when we find the sweet spot. The steering is heavy because there’s no power steering, but it’s like an Indycar as there is no traction control. Weirdly, the carbon brakes are more like those I’ve used on our American Le Mans Series sportscar.
“The Chengdu circuit is tough and our car is still a bit harsh over the bumps and this, obviously, affects braking for which you need as much grip as you can get. But, compared to some of the street circuits we’re used to racing on in the US, this is fine.
“Actually, my last race was two weeks ago in Australia, at Surfers Paradise, and that’s a rough ride as you have to use the kerbs there for a quick lap and they’re massive.”
Qualifying didn’t go so well for Andretti, as accidents to other cars restricted his chance to set fast lap times, and a tough challenge awaits in Sunday’s two races.
As ever with these galleries, because of a WordPress bug on sites that include numbers in the addresses of their posts, the linking system doesn’t work properly. Clicking on the thumbnails gets a large version, clicking on the caption gets an error message. Usually. The reverse may be true in feed readers, where it’s the thumbnail links that produce an error. Sorry!
All photos are copyright A1GP, for media use only.