Welcome to The Grid, R&T's quick roundup of the auto industry and motorsports news you should know this morning.
US auto sales have been dropping since the record year in 2016, and . Sales went down by 2.3 percent, but the year is still tracking strong, with projected sales of more than 17 million cars. That's a lot of cars.
Ford, GM, Honda, Nissan, and FCA all saw drops in sales, while VW and Toyota had small increases.
This week's F1 test in Barcelona has been marred by freakishly bad weather. Teams usually go to Barcelona for the test because of the consistent conditions, but this year it has been freezing and even snowed.
The final day of the test ended with of the time sheets, followed by McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel. But what's surprising is the tires used to set these times. Hamilton used Pirelli's medium compound, Vandoorne used the sticky hypersoft tires, and Vettel was on the soft tires. The variation in compounds throughout the order means we haven't really learned which car is quickest, but the Mercedes setting the hot time on the hardest tire compound is damn impressive.
McLaren hasn't run the most laps in preseason testing, but this time it wasn't due to engine failures. It was .
An exhaust failure was traced back to the bolt, and that caused the team to lose nearly an entire day of testing as it repaired the issue. Thankfully, the car has been reliable otherwise, and they've been fairly quick each day of testing. So that's good!