Mario Andretti: IndyCar’s new Firestone deal is a “win-win”

Four-time Indy car champion and 1969 Indy 500 winner Mario Andretti has endorsed IndyCar’s new contract with Firestone, saying that there’s “no question about the validity of having continuity in the tire sector.”

Mario Andretti: IndyCar’s new Firestone deal is a “win-win”

Firestone, which is entering its 20th seasons as IndyCar’s sole tire supplier, today announced it has extended its deal through 2025. Andretti, who was one of Firestone’s primary test drivers in Indy car racing from the mid 1960s, commented: “The only thing that could be better than this announcement today is if the relationship would have been extended to 2050!”

He continued: “I started my career in Indy car luckily by being able to join one of the top three teams in the series [Dean Van Lines]. Happened to be the team that, at the time, during the famous tire war between Firestone and Goodyear, they were on the Firestone side.

“It seemed like I fit the bill because the first test that I did, I was brutally honest with what I was reporting to the engineers. They thought that was something they had not experienced because sometimes when you have more experienced veterans, they tell the engineers what they want to hear. There was another side of it.

“That's how I got the job as one of the test drivers, which worked really peachy for me because, as you can imagine, it gave me the opportunity to put so many miles under my belt which helped me develop my skills, but also the full understanding of what it's all about, the [tire] technology.

“This is why I feel that today is a perfect example of a win-win situation coming together. There's no question about the validity of having continuity in the tire sector. There's no element of a racecar that's more important than the tires. I think you can fix the aerodynamics, you can fix the suspension technology, so on and so forth, but you cannot afford to have issues with the tires.

“There's no discipline on this planet that's more demanding than Indy cars because of the speeds we're experiencing. Ed [Carpenter] can tell you, when he sat on pole a couple years ago, going into turn one at 235mph, turning left without lifting. I guarantee you when he came back after the four laps he kissed the right front tire! As a driver, you just don't even want to think about that. It's not a given…

“There were some rumblings a couple years ago of another competitor coming in. I started asking the drivers –‘Okay, Dario Franchitti, would you be the one that would actually volunteer to be the first test driver here at Indy for the other brand?’ He says, ‘No way.’

“It's that critical. Now, the proprietary knowledge that Firestone and Bridgestone possess is not something that's just proprietary. Believe me, that's a fact.

“Again, even for me driving the two-seater, with the responsibility that I have, I have no qualms. Anything can happen in this world. You could have a puncture. But as far as the integrity of the tire, of the products, it's something that absolutely there's no question because of a proven record.

“This is the best insurance that the series could have for not having an issue.”

Mario Andretti won the 1965 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year Award for finishing third behind Jimmy Clark and Parnelli Jones.

Mario Andretti won the 1965 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year Award for finishing third behind Jimmy Clark and Parnelli Jones.

Photo by: Uncredited

 

shares
comments
Firestone extends IndyCar deal through 2025

Previous article

Firestone extends IndyCar deal through 2025

Next article

IndyCar’s big questions of 2019

IndyCar’s big questions of 2019
Load comments
The winners and losers in IndyCar 2021 – Mid-season review Prime

The winners and losers in IndyCar 2021 – Mid-season review

At the halfway point in the 2021 NTT IndyCar Series season, we've had seven winners in eight races, spread between five teams – none of them Team Penske. In this unusual season, even by IndyCar standards, who’s excelling and who’s dragging their heels? David Malsher-Lopez reports.

IndyCar
Jun 18, 2021
The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness Prime

The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness

Long-awaited wins for ex-Formula 1 drivers Marcus Ericsson and Kevin Magnussen in IndyCar and IMSA last weekend gave F1 a reminder of what it is missing. But with the new rules aimed at levelling the playing field, there’s renewed optimism that more drivers can have a rewarding result when their day of days comes

Formula 1
Jun 17, 2021
Castroneves: How I kept it under control to make Indy 500 history Prime

Castroneves: How I kept it under control to make Indy 500 history

Helio Castroneves’ overwhelming vivaciousness outside the cockpit belies a hardcore racer who knows how to plot his moves – and then recall it all for us. A day after his fourth Indy 500 win, Helio explained his tactics to David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Jun 2, 2021
How 'chess master' Castroneves cemented his Indy legend status Prime

How 'chess master' Castroneves cemented his Indy legend status

Helio Castroneves joined AJ Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears with the most Indianapolis 500 wins after sweeping around the outside of Alex Palou on the penultimate lap in a thrilling climax. In one race, he validated Michael Shank's and Jim Meyer's faith in him, and Helio himself discovered there's life after Penske after all.

IndyCar
Jun 1, 2021
Indy 500 preview: Will experience or youth be victorious? Prime

Indy 500 preview: Will experience or youth be victorious?

A quarter of the drivers racing in the 105th edition of the Indianapolis 500 are former winners - but are they the favourites? The veteran drivers largely impressed in qualifying - but there's also a plethora of young guns looking to secure victory at IndyCar's flagship race...

IndyCar
May 25, 2021
What will it take to get American drivers in Formula 1? Prime

What will it take to get American drivers in Formula 1?

The FIA says it wants American drivers in Formula 1, but would it take an IndyCar driver to transfer or does an American need to join the European junior ladder system to get there? By David Malsher-Lopez.

Formula 1
May 19, 2021
Why IndyCar is satisfying Grosjean’s appetite for his second life Prime

Why IndyCar is satisfying Grosjean’s appetite for his second life

After spending the majority of his 179-race Formula 1 career in middling to tail-end machinery, Romain Grosjean finds himself once again with an underdog team in IndyCar. While not without its challenges, he's relishing the more level playing field that means his Dale Coyne Racing crew can expect to claim a few scalps...

IndyCar
May 14, 2021
Why IndyCar's new aero parts should improve racing at Indy Prime

Why IndyCar's new aero parts should improve racing at Indy

Tino Belli, IndyCar’s director of aerodynamic development, believes the changes to the underside of the cars will allow them to run closer at Indy and make passes. The moment of truth comes on its biggest stage, writes David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
May 10, 2021