Q & A: Andretti on his Le Mans debut

A legendary name returns to Le Mans this year as Marco Andretti - son of Michael, grandson of Mario - makes his debut in the 24 Hours

Q & A: Andretti on his Le Mans debut

This is the one major trophy missing from the family shelf. AUTOSPORT spoke to Andretti about the challenge of sportscar racing, and the significance of this event to one of racing's most famous dynasties.

Q. Obviously this is a very important race to your family. What are your feelings about it?

Marco Andretti: I'm excited. I've never enjoyed myself so much in a racecar. You have the traffic, you're always busy, and the track is phenomenal. The fans who come here really make this event what it is.

I really want my father and grandfather to drive a modern prototype. We were testing at Paul Ricard and on the lunch break I saw my grandfather walking by with his race suit on. I thought, 'Where are you going?' I know they'd enjoy the power and grip of a prototype. It's like a Formula 1 car in most aspects except the power, but the grip is there. You can carry so much speed into the corners because you have the downforce. It's an awesome event.

Q. What have been the main challenges in moving between an Indycar and a closed-cockpit car?

MA: The vantage point is very different in a coupe. Other than that, a racecar is still a racecar at the end of the day. It's got more downforce than an Indycar and carbon brakes, so the cornering and braking is much better, but it's got less power. Top speed in an Indycar is 240mph, so some way quicker than these - but, like I said, a racecar is a racecar. It's still fun.

Q. The discipline of sportscar racing is very different, in that instead of working as an individual you have to co-operate with two other drivers. How is that working for you?

MA: So far it's like we're one driver - we all have a similar mentality and we all keep up with one another so that makes it very easy to work together. I think we're in for a very good race if we're trouble-free, we'll just push the whole time. It's been enjoyable so far - they're two great shoes and I'm honoured to work with them.

Q. How much running in the wet have you had in this car?

MA: Not in this car, but I've driven an LMP2 car in the wet. The good thing is the downforce, so you have the grip. You just learn the track and find out where the puddles are, basically. That'll take a couple of laps, but I think if you give up a second or two just to learn it, that's better than putting it in the fence. In the wet, it's more about the track than the car.

Q. In practice and qualifying you've had a few problems with the car. How close are they to being resolved.

MA: I'd love to say they're resolved, but you know how that goes. I'm hoping that we got it all out of the way in practice. We had some trouble with the gearbox and the suspension. Lola did a great job fixing it so we have to keep our fingers crossed, be as easy as we can on the equipment and go from there.

Q. There's been some speculation that the suspension damage may have been carried over from a previous event. Was that the case, or was it a manufacturing issue?

MA: I don't think it was damaged. A certain piece broke, and then when they refabricated it, making the area that had broken stronger, it broke in a different place. That seems to be what happened.

Q. What are your tactics for the race? Are you going to press hard or hang back and see what happens ahead?

MA: It's better to give up a second or two rather than get in a wreck. You have to look at it as risk versus reward - that comes into play big time at a race like this.

shares
comments
McNish tops wet warm-up
Previous article

McNish tops wet warm-up

Next article

Peugeots hold lead at start

Peugeots hold lead at start
Load comments
Why Le Mans didn't decide Toyota's WEC title outcome in 2021 Plus

Why Le Mans didn't decide Toyota's WEC title outcome in 2021

Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez scored a second successive World Endurance Championship title in the #7 Toyota, as its new Le Mans Hypercar went unbeaten. Autosport recaps how each of the four classes in the 2021 season were won and picks out the best LMH and GTE drivers

WEC
Nov 28, 2021
The unanswered questions that define WEC 2021's controversial ending Plus

The unanswered questions that define WEC 2021's controversial ending

OPINION: The deeply unsatisfying ending to a brilliant World Endurance Championship GTE Pro battle in Bahrain had Ferrari provisionally heading back from the desert as the victor. But Porsche plans to appeal the outcome, which rests on a number of confusing elements that have yet to be satisfactorily explained

WEC
Nov 9, 2021
How the WEC's heavyweight duel reached its controversial flashpoint Plus

How the WEC's heavyweight duel reached its controversial flashpoint

The Ferrari versus Porsche fight for the World Endurance Championship's GTE Pro title had been a finely-poised affair, right up until Alessandro Pier Guidi's punt on Michael Christensen in the closing stages of the Bahrain 8 Hours handed Ferrari a provisional title, pending Porsche's appeal. Here's how the controversy played out

WEC
Nov 8, 2021
The remarkable fixes Toyota used to avert another Le Mans disaster Plus

The remarkable fixes Toyota used to avert another Le Mans disaster

The 1-2 finish achieved by Toyota at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours was a result that will have surprised few, given its status as pre-event favourite. But the result was anything but straightforward, as worsening fuel pressure concerns required the team's drivers and engineers to pursue "creative fixes" on the fly. Here is the full story of how it reached the end without a lengthy pit visit

Le Mans
Nov 3, 2021
How the #7 Toyota squad moved closer to clinching WEC's 2021 title Plus

How the #7 Toyota squad moved closer to clinching WEC's 2021 title

In the penultimate round of the 2021 World Endurance Championship, a better run of tyre wear for Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez and Kamui Kobayashi brought the Toyota trio its third win from five events, as the #7 squad put one hand on the title. Here's how the first of the WEC's two Bahrain enduros played out

WEC
Nov 1, 2021
The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert Plus

The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert

It's 50 years since Jo Siffert was killed in his prime at Brands Hatch. The Swiss scored just two world championship wins in a Formula 1 career spent largely with privateer teams, but showed on numerous occasions in single-seaters and in sportscars with Porsche that he could beat any of the best drivers of his era given the right equipment

Formula 1
Oct 24, 2021
Inside the Le Mans finish too barmy for Hollywood Plus

Inside the Le Mans finish too barmy for Hollywood

Team WRT has been at the forefront of GT racing for years and made a successful move to prototypes for 2021, capped by an LMP2 win on its Le Mans debut. It could've been even better had the race been one lap shorter, when its cars ran 1-2, but the stranger-than-fiction reality has spurred the team to reach greater heights

Le Mans
Oct 16, 2021
The standout memories of Le Mans 2021 Plus

The standout memories of Le Mans 2021

OPINION: With four of the five Hypercar entries unproven in a 24-hour race, it would not have been unexpected for at least one of them to suffer serious reliability trouble. That they all managed to make it through the race relatively unscathed, says GARY WATKINS, was something of a surprise.

Le Mans
Aug 24, 2021