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IndyCar versus Formula 1: Racing series in comparison

IndyCar versus Formula 1
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I n Mid Ohio time has stood still. A godforsaken area with a racetrack from the 1960s. Bernie Ecclestone would rather drive for a zero at the Nürburgring than pitch his tents in this place, which reminds him of the time when Formula 1 was still a sport for garage owners and adventurers.

The IndyCar Series made a guest appearance in Mid Ohio on the first weekend in August. A 3.634-kilometer stretch in the middle of the forest with open boxes and garages, as narrow as a burrow. With archaic safety devices. Gravel beds instead of asphalt surfaces, here and there a meadow on which cars that have gotten out of control tend to get faster than slower. At the exit of Turn 1, cars could get into oncoming traffic if things go badly. There shouldn't be a jumping hill like in Turn 4 with the relational name 'Jump' in Formula 1. The limit values ​​for peaks and valleys are precisely defined in the FIA ​​rules.

Money printing machine Formula 1 vs. small IndyCar series

The control tower of Mid Ohio is a 20 meter high wooden hut. No comparison to the airport terminals of modern Formula 1 tracks. The spectators sit in the grass, on camping chairs, campers or on makeshift stands. It doesn't look any better on many other tracks. It's a trip back in time. 'Against that,' scoffs the motorsport legend Mario Andretti, 'everything in Formula 1 is the Taj Mahal.'

Mid Ohio is one of the traditional events on the IndyCar calendar. Porsche won its only IndyCar race here in 1989 with Teo Fabi. At that time, the US series began to compete with Formula 1. With simpler cars, more spectacular races, the Andrettis, Fittipaldis and Unsers in the cockpit. Nigel Mansell came across the pond in 1993 as world champion. Jacques Villeneuve switched in the other direction and became world champion in 1997.

The war of the systems ended with the CART series, as it was then called, split up into two championships in 1996. And tore himself apart in the process. They have been reunited since 2008. But not really healthy. The championship brings in just $ 55 million, which is distributed to the eleven teams. A nose's water against the Formula 1 money printing machine, which generates annual sales of 1.5 billion dollars.

Top class under review

Nevertheless, the premier class is under criticism, and its image inthe United States has received muted praise. Former Formula 1 driver Stefan Johansson, who drove both series and now looks after three-time champion Scott Dixon, also knows why: 'IndyCar is pure racing. Easy to understand, not dominated by engineers, always exciting until the last lap.'

Mario Andretti, on the other hand, says: 'If one can learn from the other, then IndyCars from Formula 1.' He thinks that Formula 1 can be badly talked about without need and pleads: 'It needs fine-tuning, but is not trying to reinvent the wheel. We have done it often enough here in the USA. You have cheated, have denied your roots and introduced things that do not fit the series. How can a racing series end at the end of August? For the fans, this creates a huge hole in winter, where nobody talks about IndyCar. ' Who is right? We do the product test in ten points.

Route in Mid Ohio - large run-off zones: no chance.

I. The drivers

In both cases a good mix of young and old. The IndyCar drivers are on average three years older. Tony Kanaan and Helio Castroneves have passed their 40s. Both contested their 18th season in 2015 and have more than 300 races under their belt. At 36, Kimi Raikkonen is the Formula 1 Methuselah, Jenson Button is the longest-serving driver in the field with 16 seasons and 284 starts. The average age of 26.70 years is the lowest in GP history.

At 17 years of age, Max Verstappen broke all records on his debut. Its counterpart in the USA, the American Sage Karam, turned 20 in March. Would Verstappen have a chance on the other side of the world? 'Definitely on the street courses. But you need experience for the ovals,' said Juan Pablo Montoya. The Indy 500 winner drove in Formula 1 until 2006. He gives his old home the advice: 'Give the drivers back the command. The sensors can stay in the car. The engineers can then read out their data. They should only be used during the race Then the driver is on his own like here in our series. If you drive too hard, you pay for it. If you are too cautious, you are wasting lap time.Finding the right balance is what makes a driver's class. So in the end you would see much bigger differences among the drivers. '

Fernando Alonso is said to earn 35 million euros per year. Scott Dixon is the big earner in the USA. Including the prize money, the New Zealander comes to five million dollars. It was once more. In the 1990s, when the money was even looser, the stars of the industry earned up to twelve million dollars. The IndyCar drivers are less media-trained and therefore less diplomatic. Every now and then a bad word or a flippant word is uttered What the series lacks is an American hero. Important in a country where patriotism is very important. 'Ryan Hunter-Reay is a great driver, but he has the charisma of a schoolteacher,' says Johansson. 'Josef Newgarden is a great talent, but nobody knows his face. '

II. The teams

Beyond the big pond everything is smaller by a factor of 10. The budgets, the size of the teams. Top teams spend between ten and twelve million dollars per car. Some have up to five cars at the start. The little ones have to make do with five million for the car. But you still win races if everything goes right on one day. When did we see the last surprise winner in Formula 1? Right, 2008 Sebastian Vettel on Toro Rosso.

III: The cars

The biggest handicap of the IndyCars is the car. Even the makers admit behind closed doors that the Dallara does not win a beauty award. Monoposto in front, sports car in the back. They are crude cars with a simple design language. If Formula 1 is concerned about the look, then that's a luxury problem.

Since 2015, the IndyCar series has no longer been a one-size-fits-all formula. The engine manufacturers Honda and Chevrolet offer aero kits for wings, side pods and engine covers. Together they invested around $ 25 million in development, but are only allowed to cash in on $ 75,000 per team. The downforce increased by 20 percent, but is inefficient. Higher cornering speeds stand in the way of sharply reduced top speeds. The cars were 1.5 seconds faster on street circuits, slower in the oval because of the greater air resistance.

Since the rules allow a profiled underbody, the IndyCars can compete with Formula 1 in fast corners. In slow they starve to death. 100 kilograms more weight and the poorer responsiveness of the V6 biturbo brake. The electric motor that fills the turbo lag is missing. The aero kits have come under fire, even from those who actually endorse them. 'The mistake,' says Andretti, 'was that you left it to Honda and Chevrolet. That split the field in half. Every weekend someone has the wrong aero kit. Thereyou can stay at home right away. Originally, each team was supposed to build their own aero kit. Nobody would have had the package exclusively for themselves. Had one person been superior, everyone else would have been able to buy it for a fixed price and improve it again. '

IV. The engines

Both series rely on turbo engines. The difference is in the price. The engine manufacturers of Formula 1 have invested 100 million euros in the development. Every year double-digit million sums are added. Chevrolet gave almost seven million euros for the construction of the 2nd , 2 liter V6 turbos from. Honda probably more. The further development devours four million euros per year. A team with two cars pays a flat rate of 1.3 million euros. In Formula 1 it is at least 17 million.

An Indy engine must last at least 4,000 kilometers, quite comparable to Formula 1. But the penalty mechanism is more intelligent. If too many engines are used, the manufacturer pays with a deduction of points in a separate evaluation. The team and driver remain untreated gt. The US engines powered by E85 fuel deliver between 640 and 710 hp, depending on the boost pressure. 0.3 bar is allowed on the super speedways and 0.5 bar on the road. Juan Pablo Montoya complains: 'We have too much downforce for too little power. I would like 200 hp more.'

V. The routes

The IndyCar driver has to be a universal talent. The 16 races are spread over street circuits, permanent racetracks, ovals and the three super speedways Indianapolis, Pocono and Fontana. They are the highlight of the series. The archaic ride in a circle reached average speeds of 364 km /h in Indianapolis. Wall contacts keep the thrill high. But this time a mysterious series of accidents brought the famous Indy 500 to the verge of rejection. Several cars became aircraft after a spin. Simulations by Chevrolet and Honda showed that from an angle of 135 degrees to the direction of travel and a speed of 320 km /h too much air got under the car, which then led to take off.

The IndyCar management ordered more downforce to keep the cars from breaking out so early and abruptly. Ex-race director Derrick Walker sums up: 'Our race tracks allow a better show. They are not so clinical, not so perfect. They have bumps, the walls are close, the corners are spectacular. Not being perfect exudes a certain fascination.' The IndyCar routes are also more dangerous than the Formula 1 retort courses. Tecpro barriers are unknown. There is hardly any fall space. Justin Wilson's fatal accident is not your typical IndyCar accident. The Englishman was hit by a vehicle nose. It was an unfortunate meeting like that of Felipe Massa in Budapest in 2009 with the pen.

There is no lack of spectacle in the IndyCar scene.

VI. The fascination

The trademark of Formula 1 is technology. And it is also a curse. Because it costs too much and evolution eats up its children. And because nobody wants to keep moderation. IndyCar needs action, preferably every lap. The American racing fan is more demanding, not so well informed, and quicker to get bored. 'Technical competition is still important because it attracts sponsors and manufacturers into series production,' says Derrick Walker, but only as long as it does not make the races predictable. That is why the technology must be available to everyone. Allow exclusivity we only work with the dampers. '

VII. The Show

IndyCar races last as long as a Grand Prix. The 500 mile classics drive the cut upwards. There are significantly more overtaking maneuvers, which is due to the fact that the cars are less aerodynamically sensitive. The rules allow tunnels in the subsoil. That is stable downforce. The front wings are less complicated, the flow pattern to the rear of the car is more random and not as clearly structured as in a Formula 1 car. So it can also be less disturbed. Ex-F1 driver Sebastien Bourdais notes, however: 'The new aero kits made it harder to follow behind. They produce more turbulence, especially the Honda cars with their jagged rear.'

IndyCar has push to-Pass, the Formula 1 DRS. Saving fuel and tire management are not a big issue at IndyCars. If you need fuel, you pits. Sometimes consumption becomes a strategic weapon if you can save yourself a pit stop during many SafetyCar phases. The Firestone soles are frugal and show hardly any wear. 'If I had to take care of my tires from the first lap on, I would no longer enjoy racing. We get faster when we ask the tire. Because then it comes into its work window,' says Bourdais. In Formula 1 it is the other way around. Once too aggressive, and the surface temperature rises so sharply that the tire never recovers.

VIII. Management

There is a separation of powers in Formula 1. Bernie Ecclestone rules the money, FIA President Jean Todt the rules. But the teams have a say . And they use this in such a way that there is a reform backlog. Mark Miles and Derrick Walker operated the IndyCar businesses independently. The teams are allowed to make suggestions, nothing more. This means that you are less blocked when there is a need for action. But there is gossip there too. Race director Derrick Walker had to resign at the end of the year. 'The team bosses and my boss think I haven't done my job well enough. They don't tell me what bothers them, but I think it's the aero kits. '

Stefan Johansson sees only one way out of this mess.' IndyCar needs an investor who has a prize money of 25 million dollars writes out. Then people look again. 'And Formula 1? Mario Andretti has the solution:' If the driver is supposed to count something again, telemetry forbids. If the technology becomes too expensive, you set limits. '

IX. Equal opportunities

One could go from In 16 IndyCar races there were nine winners in six different teams, 19 drivers on the podium, 5 on the pole position. There are 16.0 lead changes and over 100 pit stops per race. In the last race there were three drivers Become champion. The greatest outsider won. Scott Dixon overtook Juan Pablo Montoya and Graham Rahal thanks to the colon rule. 'You didn't want it in Formula 1,' etched Bernie Ecclestone.

In the win always only Mercedes, and if Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg or the team allow themselves enough mistakes, also Sebastian Vettel in a Ferrari. There were three different winners, three on pole position and at least 10 drivers on the podium. The world champion? He stood Already four races before the end, with three changes in leadership per race and 37 pit stops per Grand Prix, there is significantly less action in Formula 1. But there are also fewer SafetyCar interruptions. 0.74 per race on average against 4.63, with a large part being attributable to the oval races. The same applies to the change in leadership. The highlight was the Fontana 500 with 80 position changes at the top.

X. The fans

A weekend ticket in Mid Ohio costs $ 75. Five dollars more for a grandstand seat, 30 dollars extra for the paddock, 175 dollars for the all-round feel-good package with the motorhome right on the track. Children under the age of twelve have free entry. The highlight Indy 500 is also relatively inexpensive with an average entry price of 185 dollars. In Monte Carlo it starts at 403 euros and ends at 805 euros. In Silverstone, the offer ranges between 270 and 625 euros.

Despite the decline in the number of spectators, the grandstands arebetter cast in Formula 1 than in the USA. It must be the charm of the special that makes people invest a vacation budget in three days of motorsport. Formula 1 is like driving a Ferrari once. IndyCar is Opel. But you can touch it and many extras at no extra charge. Juan Pablo Montoya sums up the difference: 'IndyCar is made for the fans, Formula 1 for television.'

The IndyCar drivers don't earn nearly as much as their Formula 1 -Pendants.


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