Marco Andretti says he’s happier with the new HPD aero package, but admits he can’t be certain of progress – and has worries over the superspeedway configuration.
Andretti told Motorsport.com: “I guess increasing downforce is going to suit any driver’s style, right? But what I’d say is that the 2016 kit's grip is more usable than last year.
“In 2015, the grip from the Honda kit was very peaky and it was tough to extract the most from the car. Whereas this year it seems – and we can’t be certain yet until we’ve run more options – it’s now easier, quote-unquote, to get to the limit of the car.
“That’s going to be very important for qualifying, so hopefully the pace will be better and we’ll be starting nearer the front each race.”
Commenting on the rear-end stability that he always seeks from an IndyCar machine, Andretti, who finished ninth in the 2015 edition of the series, stated: “We tested it at Sebring, which has varying grip levels from start of the day to the end. It’s varies a lot as rubber goes down, so again it’s hard to tell.
“But I’d say the new aero kit has a security blanket of more downforce and grip at each end, but we’re still working on it.
“More downforce is going to help on long runs as far as tire wear goes; less deterioration over a stint, so the whole level of performance is up.”
Regarding HPD’s superspeedway package which was not granted extra improvements in the off-season under Rule 9.3, (unlike the road/street/short-oval package) Andretti sounded less confident.
He said: “We need to see what Chevrolet has. Obviously the competition has been working, as well. We don't know until we're on track with them really.
“I'm a little worried about the speedway stuff, the politics there. I hope the field isn't divided there. We're not allowed to change a lot on the speedway side.
“But on the short oval, I’m happy so far, yeah. At Phoenix, I’ve been quickest of anyone who’s run there.”