The next generation of Indycars has arrived and first impressions of the car are fantastic.
The new car looks like an Indycar from its hey days of the 80’s and 90’s but with a modern twist. The fans have been craving a return to the old aesthetic of Indycars with the safety and aggressive features of the DW12. This car delivers on all fronts. The oval version with its skinny front and rear wings in addition to the removal of the rear tyre guards gives the car an aggressive but sleak profile. Equally the slightly wider front wing also means that the car has been modernised with the safety benefits in case of a crash.
What is truly a selling point of this car is the downforce. Like Formula 1 the DW12 produced a significant proportion of downforce from the top section of the car (front wing, sidepods and rear wing) which led to more and more aerodynamic appendages bolted on. This led to more spread out racing due to the “dirty” air of the car in front.
As confirmed by Indycar, the 2018 model produces nearly 70% of its downforce from the Venturi effect produced by the floor of the car. This will allow cars to run closer without effect from the turbulence from the car in front. This means on road and short ovals we can expect more side by side racing and overtaking. Whilst next years Indianapolis 500 promises to be a classic with these new cars.
Where Indycar really shines, is safety and listening to the fans. Whilst the vast majority of fans of Formula 1 do not want the ridiculous “halo” introduced and a better solution tested and brought forward, the FIA and Jean Todd have ignored the fans who make the sport financially viable. Now whilst it is a good step for safety there are also unforeseen consequences of such a device which could lead to injuries. Equally for what is meant to be the most beautiful cars in the world it looks like the best idea the designers can think of resembles a flip flop. Furthermore, like Indycar, F1 is an opened wheel and open cockpit and should remain so and the halo is a dangerous step to turning F1 and other open cockpit motorsport into Le Mans styled closed cockpit prototypes.
The new Indycar has significant upgrades such as improved padding and survival cell that significantly reduces the chance of injury in impacts such as Sebastian Bourdais horrific crash. The roll over hoop and positioning of key elements of the car has also been moved and strengthened to improve safety. Finally, Indycar recognises the need for driver protection in the case of flying debris to avoid the tragic death of Justin Wilson. Instead of bolting on a ridiculous piece of metal that has the potential to harm and trap drivers in the car they have left the design space open. This allows them to analyse the best solution and listen to the drivers and fans and deliver the best compromise.
As a fan brought up on F1, I can truly say that Indycar is leading the way on how to run and design a car that is open wheel and open cockpit. They also recognise the value of fans input and not alienating their fan base. I truly cannot wait for the 2018 Indycar season and would like to send a massive thank you as a fan to listening to us and focusing on improving the racing and aesthetics of the car. Congratulations Indycar 2018 is going to be special.