Severe understeer hurting Rossi’s pace at Barber

A mysterious lack of front grip has prevented Alexander Rossi from building on his and the Andretti Autosport team’s momentum from Long Beach, where he appeared set to battle eventual winner James Hinchcliffe for victory.

Severe understeer hurting Rossi’s pace at Barber
Alexander Rossi, Herta - Andretti Autosport Honda
Alexander Rossi, Herta - Andretti Autosport Honda
Alexander Rossi, Herta - Andretti Autosport Honda
Alexander Rossi, Herta - Andretti Autosport Honda
Marco Andretti, Andretti Autosport with Lendium Honda
Marco Andretti, Andretti Autosport with Lendium Honda
Alexander Rossi, Herta - Andretti Autosport Honda

Rossi will start tomorrow’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama from a lowly 18th place on the grid, after being eliminated in the first round of qualifying. Last year’s Indy 500 winner only just missed progressing into Q2 by 0.12sec, but his race engineer Jeremy Milless says the team hasn’t been able to find a good handling balance throughout practice.

“We’ve been struggling for front-end grip all weekend,” Milless told Motorsport.com. “We’ve made some pretty massive changes and haven’t found it yet. The best we’ve been the last two days weekend was how we rolled off the truck on Friday.”

Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay reached the Firestone Fast Six, while the other two Andretti Autosport cars of Marco Andretti and Takuma Sato will line up 13th and 14th. Andretti said his car was a bit too loose, and Hunter-Reay had been battling similar problems all weekend. But Milless said simply switching Hunter-Reay’s more oversteery settings onto Rossi’s car wasn’t the answer.

“We started third practice with the cars the same and we still had major understeer compared with Ryan [Hunter-Reay], and that applied to both tire compounds.

“The answer is in the data, we just have to find it overnight. But even if we do, it’s tough on this track to make ground from 18th.”

Meanwhile Andretti, who was fastest yesterday afternoon and eighth fastest this morning said: the Top 10 this morning, said: “I was just a bit loose, but with the margin I had, there is really no excuse – I should’ve had it through. I don’t know what to say. This one definitely hurts, to miss [Q2] by a hundredth of a second.

“I’m going to need a start like I did last year to help us gain ground during the race.”

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