E There was a time when Bernie Ecclestone started the IndyCar Series feared. The US counterpart was a real competitor for Formula 1. Especially when the Americans began to expand their series. First Australia, then Brazil and Japan, and finally Europe with the Lausitzring and Rockingham. The two championships even stole each other's masters. A year after winning the title in 1993, Nigel Mansell joined the enemy in the United States. Jacques Villeneuve went the opposite way as IndyCar champion in 1995.
So the split of the IndyCar series in 1996 came in very handy for the then Formula 1 Zampano. Bernie was not entirely uninvolved. He persuaded Indianapolis boss Tony George that it would be better for IndyCar to return to its American roots. This resulted in two championships. George founded the IRL series. It led a wallflower existence for four years, but then gained the upper hand. George had the most important race of the year as a bargaining chip in his war against the traditionalists. Nobody wanted to do without the Indy 500. Not even the greatest IndyCar advocate Roger Penske.
Two aero kits for circuit and oval
With the IRL series, standard chassis returned. Dallara built it. It was almost a tradition for the Italian racing car manufacturer to build ugly cars. The chassis that was in use until 2011 was an outdated design. Like Formula 1 from two decades before. Then the US series took the opposite path and wanted to look futuristic. The result was a car that looked like a Batmobile. Monoposto in front, sports car in the back. Beautiful is different. Apparently the fans wanted it that way. That can not be really. The misshapen cars were one of the reasons for the decline in viewers. They just didn't look spectacular.
It didn't get any better when IndyCar allowed engine manufacturers to compete with their own aero kits. Chevrolet and Honda each developed two specifications. One for street courses and the mini-ovals, the other for the three super speedways Indianapolis, Pocono and Texas. That went into the money. And it provoked competitive differences. Chevrolet had better aerodynamics for street circuits, Honda for the big ovals. The teams rebelled. As a result, all cars will be the same again in 2018. Or get a completely different outfit.
With the DW12 chassis, Dallara has finally made a good hit. The car with the only slightly raised nose, from which the wings grow directly, is a compact construction with harmonious proportions and some Formula 1 features such as undercut side boxes, gills as an air outlet or a base plate in the wing profile. There are no baffles or flow aids for this. This ensures clean lines and smooth surfaces. Almost like in the good old Formula 1 days. Or the Indycars of the early 90s. The rear wing for classic racetracks is in three parts and sits on two stilts. The Superspeedway wing is a narrow ironing board, slightly higher than the rear wheels. Very important: This car will not have a halo and for that reason alone will stand out from Formula 1.
2018 IndyCar cars are significantly cheaper
In terms of workmanship, the IndyCar series cannot of course keep up with Formula 1. This is also shown by our photo comparison of the 2017 cars in both series. Formula 1 cars have a complicated and filigree design language in every detail. They are modern works of art. In contrast, IndyCar technology looks like agricultural machinery. The IndyCars shown in the photo show are equipped with the Superspeedway kit. This is the more elegant version of two rather inelegant looks.
The differences between the two aero kits are easy to see. On the front and rear wings, the side pods, the Batmans, the engine covers and the baffles behind the front wheels. The Honda front wing is a uniform board without flaps. The Chevy part at least suggests a flap with a bulge to the rear. The end plate on the Honda wing could come from a Lego kit. Chevy resorted to Formula 1 models and gave the end plate at least one curve before it merges into the base plate.
There is only one small difference in the baffles behind the front wheels. Chevrolet is building a second vertical surface behind the large flow deflector. Honda doesn't. The biggest difference can be seen in the side boxes. At Honda they are made of one piece. The Batman in front of the rear wheelsgrows right out of the disguise. Chevrolet pulls in the side panels more and forms the Batman like a huge, separately standing fender.
The Chevy engine cover falls off immediately after the roll bar. Honda continues the ridge for a while at the level of the roll bar and then pulls it down steeply. This is somewhat reminiscent of the Formula 1 airbox sails. The rear wings, on the other hand, show only minimal differences. No comparison to Formula 1, where an adjustable flap is attached over the main sheet. The main wing of the IndyCar-Dallara consisted of one leaf. To the right and left of the end plates, the rear wings grew two ears that were attached to the pontoons behind the rear wheels. This gave the US racers the look of a sports car from the rear.
Classic wings are again used in both specifications in the 2018 cars. Without attachments. A kit is said to cost $ 90,000. That's between $ 35,000 and $ 75,000 cheaper than last year's cars. It's fine with the IndyCar teams. Many of them are balancing on the precipice due to insufficient funding.