The aero war between manufacturers
Chevrolet and Honda hits pause this year,
with the bodykits frozen in their 2016
specifications ahead of the rollout of the
new standard aero package next year.
But that doesn’t mean that the teams
have taken an extended vacation over
the winter. Penske dominated last year’s
championship, but still spent the
off-season looking for more
improvements, while teams that had
less consistent campaigns in 2016
appreciated the chance to take a
breather and look for opportunities
to address weaknesses.
THE SPICE OF LIFE
With its mix of tracks, IndyCar is about variety. That’s
why it runs two different aero kits - one tailor-made
for speedways (ABOVE), one for road/street courses.
“It’s the first time in three seasons that
we’re not learning a new aero kit,” says
Schmidt Peterson Motorsport’s Honda-equipped James Hinchcliffe. “Last year
we were taking big swings at things to try
to figure stuff out. Now we have our base
setups and a little bit of information
behind us, we can start really diving into
the little things that make a difference in
a series that’s so competitive. From the
engineering point of view, we’ve had time
to go through all this data and find things
that you couldn’t find in the mad thrash of
the season, so I predict that as a team
we’re going to be much more prepared.”
The IndyCar field is deep with drivers
chasing their first championship, their
first Indianapolis 500 victory – or maybe
even their first race win. But there are
also some seasoned veterans who are not
chasing “firsts,” but “mosts.”
Helio Castroneves is hoping for one of
each. The Brazilian is still chasing
membership to the Indy 500 four-time
winners’ club, but he also continues to
dream of a championship after finishing
runner-up four times. He was third in the
points last year, so it’s well within reach.
The Verizon IndyCar Series’ veterans still have everything to play for.
Scott Dixon already has an Indy win and
four championships, and would be delighted
to add to both, but he’s also just two
victories away from catching Michael
Andretti for third on the all-time list. The
last time Dixon didn’t win at least twice in a
season was 12 years ago. Watch this space.
Ganassi team-mate Tony Kanaan also
has a champions’ trophy and a Baby
Borg, but he’s desperate to add a second
win for CGR to go with Fontana in 2014.
So, grey hairs? A couple, maybe.
Heavy right feet? Absolutely.
Ten Indy 500 wins
might be beyond
but four certainly
isn’t. Tony Kanaan
(BELOW) wants to
success for Ganassi.
The Verizon IndyCar Series driver
incubator that is the Mazda Road
to Indy keeps producing new
talent. This season it’s elevating
2016 Indy Lights champion
Ed Jones into the big leagues.
The Brit follows in the footsteps
of ’ 15 Lights champ Spencer Pigot
in securing a place on the grid,
and will spend his rookie year
alongside veteran Sebastien
Bourdais at Dale Coyne Racing.
“I’m hugely excited about
stepping up to IndyCar,” Jones
says. “This has been my goal
ever since I left Europe to race in
America. I worked hard for this
opportunity and intend to grab it
by the scruff of the neck and
make the most of it.”