Andretti team back to Chevy engines? (8th Update)

UPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'speculation' today. RACER reports that team sources told them Michael Andretti has decided to stay with Honda power but Alexander Rossi told that th team has not made a decision on engines and those stories are not true.

Art St. Cyr hopeful Andretti will stay in the Honda camp
Art St. Cyr hopeful Andretti will stay in the Honda camp

08/27/17 Just a little over one week ago, it appeared Andretti Autosport was leaning heavily toward a return to Chevrolet as its manufacturer partner beginning in 2018. Andretti’s contract with Honda expired at the end of this season and from talking to sources at Andretti, Honda and Chevrolet, it seemed that was the direction Michael Andretti’s team would take.

Not so fast.

Autoweek has learned that it now appears likely Andretti Autosport will return to the Honda lineup next season. That information gleaned from discussions in the Verizon IndyCar Series paddock at Gateway Motorsports Park over the weekend. Honda Performance Development (HPD) president Art St. Cyr has expressed optimism there will be no changes to the Honda IndyCar driver and team lineup for next season.

Team owner Michael Andretti seemed sincere in his assertion that he had not made up his mind what he would do in 2018 last weekend at Pocono. And at that time, the more Andretti talked about it, the more it appeared he was having second thoughts about leaving Honda.

“There has been some movement but it’s moving a lot slower than I would like," Andretti said Saturday evening before the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline. “It’s been agonizingly slow.

“But we keep getting closer to a final decision."

When asked if that could be a return to Honda, Andretti quipped:

“It could be no movement at all or it might be to Chevy," Andretti said smiling. “If you talk to the Honda people, they might think I’m leaning toward them but the Chevy people may think differently.

“But we’ve got to make this decision soon. It has to be well before the season’s last race at Sonoma (on September 17) – well, well before that because we have to set up our offseason program for next year." Bruce Martin/AutoWeek


Marco Andretti's father has a tough decision to make, stick with Honda which has the stronger engine, and take the money grab and switch to Chevy
Marco Andretti's father has a tough decision to make, stick with Honda which has the stronger engine and will deliver more wins, or take the money grab and switch to Chevy

Michael Andretti told Autoweek he expects to decide “in the next week or two" regarding his engine alliance in the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season. Autoweek reported on June 25 at Road America that Andretti was considering leaving Honda and returning to Chevrolet once the current contract with Honda ends after this season.

“I could very well be back at Honda because they have been awesome partners, but I can say equally when we spent those couple of years with Chevrolet, those were good as well," Andretti told Autoweek at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course — site of Sundays’ Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. “I think the series is lucky to have two great partners. Whichever decision I make it’s going to be a good one because they are both good choices.

“I have to weigh all kinds of things and make a decision. It will be a very difficult decision. We are in the middle of it right now and I owe it to my team to do the best that I can for the team and that’s where I’m at right now."

If Andretti Autosport leaves Honda and returns to Chevrolet the team would lose one of its drivers — Japan’s Takuma Sato, who won the 101st Indianapolis 500 on May 28. Another driver, 100th Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi, is also believed to have strong connections with Honda but Andretti disputed that.

“Rossi doesn’t have any connections with Honda so that wouldn’t affect anything there but obviously, Takuma does," Andretti continued. “Those are all parts of the things I have to weigh in my decision. We’ll just have to wait and see how it all plays out. AutoWeek

Michael Andretti likely getting a sweet deal from Chevy
With blank sidepods on 3 of his team's 4 IndyCars, Michael Andretti needs a sweet deal from Chevy to prop up the bottom line

IndyCar team owner Michael Andretti today confirmed that a change from Honda to Chevy is "under consideration," even with Andretti Autosport's "fourth year as key member of the Honda family almost complete."

Andretti said, "We've talked to them and I owe it to my team and sponsors to listen to what they have to say. We had a great relationship with Chevrolet before but I haven't made any decision yet." With the move by Chip Ganassi Racing from Chevy to Honda at the end of '16, IndyCar's "competitive balance tipped in favor of Honda"

This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today. Mark Kent, GM’s director of motorsports competition, told Motorsport that should Chevrolet expand its IndyCar engine supply roster next year, Andretti Autosport would be on its list of potential partners.

Chevrolet currently supplies just eight of the 21 fulltime entries on the Verizon IndyCar Series grid, and with Team Penske likely to cut back to three cars next year, the Bowtie brand is perceived to need greater strength in numbers when IndyCar reverts to a common aerokit in 2018.

With Honda rumored to pay for Takuma Sato's engines (and more) it will be interesting to see which Honda team he moves to in 2018 if this rumor becomes 'fact.' If we had to predict we would say the Rahal team, who he drove for previously.

Honda is perceived to have a HP advantage over the Chevys and this has helped the Andretti team to win 3 of the last 4 Indy 500s. Therefore, we would not expect Andretti to switch back to Chevy unless there was a nice financial incentive. With 3 of the team's 4 cars lacking fulltime sponsorship, the financial support from Chevy would be most welcomed.

06/28/17 Andretti Autosport Chief Operating Officer Rob Edwards told Robin Miller at Road America said there was "absolutely nothing to it," when asked about the rumor of Andretti Autosport switching to Chevy. Of course he would deny it even if true, so we are not making this rumor 'false' just yet.

06/27/17 With Honda's engine woes now identified and behind them, why would Andretti switch his team from the more powerful Hondas to Chevy. The only reason the Chevys are faster at some tracks is because the Honda aerokit acts like a parachute at the back on all but the superspeedways where Chevy is also required to close off their Butt Bumpers. With the spec aerokits coming next year the superior Honda power and fuel mileage will mean the Chevy teams will have their work cut out for them.

Scott Dixon says the fact Honda could keep its IndyCar engine at full power for longer than Chevrolet was key to his surprise defeat of the Penske Chevys at Road America. Dixon qualified 1.6 seconds off the pace in fifth behind an all-Penske top four, but on race day he worked his way forward before passing Josef Newgarden for the lead on the outside at a restart and then held off the Penske driver to the flag.

Dixon believes the Penske Dallara-Chevrolets were struggling to make fuel mileage targets, which helped him overcome the fact that the Honda aerokit creates more drag.

"I didn't really think we would be in this situation, but huge credit to Honda," said Dixon.

"The engine's very strong. They don't really have to turn it down for the race.

"To get the fuel mileage is always very difficult when you're making so much power.

"[The Chevrolets] were able to turn up to similar performance, I think, when they need to earlier in the race but we don't have to detune as much as they do.

"At the start of the race, I was kind of shocked how fast we were.

"I had a pretty big run on Will [Power] a couple of times, then Helio [Castroneves].

"Honda have done a fantastic job to maintain that performance.

"[The Penske drivers] were, I think, having to save fuel pretty hard to get the mileage number with their engine.

"They couldn't run flat-out like we could in some of the scenarios."

Andretti has won 3 of the last 4 Indy 500s with superior Honda power, so why would he switch? When in doubt, follow the money. You can bet Chevy is offering him a sweet deal to get their car count up after losing the Ganassi team this year.

If we are Andretti, we would insist his team gets the secret Penske shocks with the Chevy engines since Roger makes them both – the Ilmor engines and the Penske shocks.

Michael Andretti has had great success with Honda at the Speedway, but no where else.
Michael Andretti has had great success with Honda at the Speedway, but no where else.

06/26/17 Andretti Autosport is talking to Chevy about switching to it from Honda, according to sources throughout the IndyCar paddock.

The terms of Andretti’s current deal with Honda could not be confirmed by presstime, but it is routine for teams to evaluate manufacturer relationships as deals come up for renewal. Andretti declined comment on the talks.

Chevy said it does not comment on business relationships, while Honda said it is “not aware at this time" of plans for Andretti to switch to Chevy.

Andretti is a longtime Honda team, but the team did switch to Chevy for the ’12 and ’13 season before going back to Honda in ’14.

Another big swing occurred this season when Chip Ganassi Racing switched from Chevy to Honda, altering the balance of power between the two manufacturers in the Verizon IndyCar Series in a similar way that a prospective Andretti-Chevy deal would.

Ganassi’s move to Honda has been the source of private griping from some Honda teams since it was announced late last year.

Those teams feel that their positions in the Honda pecking order has been leapfrogged by Ganassi. Whether that is factoring into Andretti’s decision making could not be confirmed. Adam Stern/SBD

Michael Andretti switching back to Chevy?
Michael Andretti switching back to Chevy?

06/25/17 If the word circling through the Verizon IndyCar Series paddock about one hour before Sunday’s Kohler Grand Prix proves to be true, then Andretti Autosport may be leaving Honda for Chevrolet beginning in 2018 reports Bruce Martin of AutoWeek.

Autoweek was told by a rival Honda team owner that the rumor is Andretti Autosport returning to Chevrolet after a four-year absence. Michael Andretti was a longtime Honda team owner when he joined the old Indy Racing League full time in 2003 but switched to Chevrolet for 2012 and 2013. One of Andretti’s drivers, Ryan Hunter-Reay, won the 2012 Verizon IndyCar Series championship with a Chevrolet.

The team moved back to Honda in 2014 and Hunter-Reay won the 98th Indianapolis 500 that year. Andretti’s cars have also won the Indy 500 with Alexander Rossi in 2016 and Takuma Sato this past May.

None of the major players in this, however, will confirm or deny this is happening. Of course, it would be way too early to complete such a contract if the two sides are talking.

So how did this all get started?

“I have no idea," Andretti told Autoweek. “It’s fun to talk about rumors and to start rumors. But I have no comment."

Mark Kent is the director of GM Racing and stated the company line regarding such a move.

“We don’t talk about contractual issues," Kent told Autoweek. “That is our policy at Chevrolet. Our lineup right now is pretty strong. Every year we explore our options and opportunities but at this point we have nothing to say about it."

Art St. Cyr is the president of Honda Performance Development (HPD) and said the first news he heard about it is when Honda team owner Bobby Rahal told him Sunday morning at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

“It would be news to me," St. Cyr told Autoweek. “I heard the rumor this morning and that is all I’ve heard. Our contracts have varying lengths depending on who we are contracted with. But I’m not going to talk to you about contracts. I’m sorry about that.

“It’s news to me. I’ve had no indication of any of that stuff. I’m pretty confident with all of our teams and if you look at who has won for Honda this year, all of our teams have been successful."

St. Cyr believes Honda and Andretti have been a great fit.

“We won the last two Indy 500s and three of the last four so that’s a pretty big one there," St. Cyr said. “Of course, it would be a disappointment because we’ve had so much success together."

Josh Freund is the chief mechanic for Ryan Hunter-Reay’s No. 28 team at Andretti Autosport and believes it’s too early for either direction to play itself out.

“It’s negotiations — it’s how the game is played," Freund told Autoweek. “And, it’s above my pay grade."

Rob Edwards is chief operating officer at Andretti Autosport and admitted to Autoweek, “I keep hearing that. But there is nothing to it."

It was at Road America last year when rumors began that Chip Ganassi Racing was leaving Chevrolet and would join Honda. Ultimately, that came true and put the balance of power in favor of Honda in 2017. Chevrolet, however, doesn’t like to lose in any racing series and by stealing away one of Honda’s “Power Teams" in 2018, it may shift the power back in Chevy’s direction.

This one promises to play out for the remainder of the season.

Social Media Auto Publish Powered By :