Several IndyCar drivers have called for the series’ officials to reconsider the new-for-2011 rule to use double-file race restarts after the season-opening Grand Prix of St Petersburg was hit by a series of early crashes.
The start of the race saw a five-car pile-up at the first corner, triggered by Marco Andretti, and the opening 15 laps of the 100-lap race were punctuated by a further three safety car interruptions, with most triggered by another restart incident.
The series rules dictate that all events will feature two-by-two restarts – with the race leader picking which side of the grid they want to line up on – with competitors passing through their grid markings at 75mph until the green flag to race is waved.
The rule was implemented to bring about more overtaking in the championship, but polesitter and race runner-up Will Power – who was himself leapfrogged by racewinner Dario Franchitti during one of the race’s restarts – believes that the IndyCar series is not the right platform to implement this rule, expecting more trouble on the horizon.
“The problem is, is they have so many cars bunched in such a tight space,” he told reporters after the race. “There’s zero room for error, and we can’t bump like NASCAR.
“I think this is just going to continue every race. There’s going to be people getting knocked out every single restart. I think that’s what it’s going to be … It’s just everyone in the road, and if you are going to get by someone, someone is going to get knocked out. That’s what happens.”
Third-placed finisher Tony Kanaan – while admitting that he had benefited from the restart errors of others – was similarly critical of the new rule, arguing that it might not be appropriate on tighter street circuits.
“Go to a tighter place, like Long Beach, and Toronto; think about it,” the Brazilian added. “We need to make the show good. And I don’t think it’s good for the show to have the first 15 laps under the yellow. It’s crazy.”
But with any contentious rule, there will always be some supporters, and HVM’s Simon de Silvestro, was an advocate of the new rule, which she used to great effect to finish a career-best fourth after starting 17th.
At one restart, the Swiss driver vaulted from seventh to second with a daring move up the inside into Turn 1 as the green flag was waved.
“I thought the double-file restarts were pretty fun because it actually gave us [further down the order] a chance to make positions,” she said after chasing Kanaan to the finish.
“Last year, we would start single file every time, it would be hard. You would be just following the leader. I think it [the restarts] made it exciting and I really enjoyed it.”