One thing I’d like to clarify before I sign off. There was some talk about myself and Tony Kanaan boycotting the race at Texas this year. That’s not really what we were trying to say. What’s wrong is that we feel the DW12 has too much downforce for the amount of horsepower it’s producing on ovals. The aerodynamic package gives a huge draft effect from a long way back and allows cars to follow each other closely, but they can’t pass. We lost Dan Wheldon last October, and we want lessons to have been learned so that we can avoid the mindless pack racing and take the sport forward.
As a result, I spoke to [IndyCar vice-president of technology] Will Phillips at length last Friday, and he says there is still plenty of room to take quite a bit of downforce out from the underwing, so he’s confident we can get to a point where we’re having to lift. We may still be able to run flat on new tires in qualifying, but in the race, we’ll have to lift – so the cars will not be running in a huge pack, we’ll need racecraft and hopefully it will be an entertaining race. No one – not the spectators or the drivers – want to see a situation where there are 28 cars just going around like they’re on a highway but at 220mph. Will has given me confidence that there’s going to be modifications made, and that at the 15-car test at TMS in March, we’ll see significant progress.
As I wrote last year, preventing the cars from being able to lap ovals flat out in heavy traffic seems to be the correct response to the crash that killed Wheldon.
The drivers have expressed concerns about Texas, though, and next month’s test is going to be important.