For the first time in over a decade, the IndyCar Series field will not be made up of identical cars. Aerodynamic development has opened up for the new season, although usually it’s the engine developers who take the lead rather than the teams themselves.
Chevrolet and Honda have produced the new aero kits and it’s up to the teams themselves to choose what parts they use.
A new era of Technical Regulations
The add-ons are a mixed bag from an aesthetic point of view, the possibility of different cars using different parts for their aero kits will introduce a new element of variety to the series at least in terms of how the cars look.
Will this have an effect on the competition? A major attraction of the IndyCar Series since the current chassis was introduced in 2012 was how close and competitive the racing was. A different champion was crowned every year and 52 races with the Dallara DW12 chassis has seen 17 different winners, more than twice Formula 1 has managed over the same period.
The first pre-season test with the new body kits, however, showed encouraging signs that the field will remain close. The top 17 were covered by one second in the final test at Barber Motorsport Park.
The cars are visibly faster both on camera and on the stopwatch due to the new aero kits generating a lot more downforce. Reigning World Champion for Team Penske, Will Power, beat his pole position time from last year’s race by a full second. This is despite other changes to the cars intended to control speeds and prevent them from launching in the event of a high speed spin.
Testing suggested that Chevrolet may start the season with a performance advantage over Honda. Many in IndyCar Series paddock believes that the power-to-grip ratio should have favoured engine horsepower over more downforce.
The 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Season was meant to begin a few weeks ago in Brasilia but it was cancelled by its promoter. It has, however, ensured that the new aero kits will be ready for the first round in St Petersburg this weekend.
The 2015 Calendar
The 2015 calendar will have 16 rounds this season beginning with the Firestone Indy Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and ending with the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma replacing the MAVTV 500 at Fontana as last round of the championship. The 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 will be on the Monaco Grand Prix weekend on Sunday May 24.
|1||March 29||Grand Prix of St Petersburg||St Petersburg street circuit||St Petersburg, Florida|
|2||April 12||Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana||NOLA Motorsports Park||Avondale, Louisiana|
|3||April 19||Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach||Long Beach street circuit||Long Beach, California|
|4||April 26||Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama||Barber Motorsports Park||Birmingham, Alabama|
|5||May 9||Grand Prix of Indianapolis||Indianapolis road course||Speedway, Indiana|
|6||May 24||99th Indianapolis 500||Indianapolis Motor Speedway||Speedway, Indiana|
|7||May 30||Indy Dual in Detroit||Belle Isle||Detroit, Michigan|
|9||June 6||Firestone 600||Texas Motor Speedway||Fort Worth, Texas|
|10||June 14||Honda Indy Toronto||Exhibition Place street circuit||Toronto, Canada|
|11||June 27||MAVTV 500||Auto Club Speedway||Fontana, California|
|12||July 12||ABC Supply Wisconsin 250||The Milwaukee Mile||West Allis, Wisconsin|
|13||July 18||Iowa Corn Indy 300||Iowa Speedway||Newton, Iowa|
|14||August 2||Honda Indy 200||Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course||Lexington, Ohio|
|15||August 23||Pocono IndyCar 500||Pocono Raceway||Long Pond, Pennsylvania|
|16||August 30||GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma||Sonoma Raceway||Sonoma, California|
Team & Driver Line-ups
|A.J. Foyt Enterprises||14||Takuma Sato||All|
|Andretti Autosport||25||Simona de Silvestro||1|
|Bryan Herta Autosport||97||Jay Howard||Indy 500 only|
|98||Gabby Chaves (R)||All|
|CFH Racing||20||Luca Filippi||Road courses|
|Chip Ganassi Racing||8||Sage Karam (R)||1|
|Dale Coyne Racing||18||Carlos Huertas||All|
|19||Francesco Dracone (R)||1-4|
|Jonathan Byrd’s Racing||82||Bryan Clauson||Indy 500 only|
|KV Racing Technology||4||Stefano Coletti (R)||All|
|Lazier Partners Racing||91||Buddy Lazier||Indy 500 only|
|Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||15||Graham Rahal||All|
|Schmidt Peterson Motorsports||5||James Hinchcliffe||All|
|Team Penske||1||Will Power||All|
|2||Juan Pablo Montoya||All|
Team Penske: The Captain Roger Penske’s team will field four cars for the first time with reigning World Champion Aussie Will Power teaming with last year’s runner up and three time Indy 500 winner Hélio Castroneves, also last year’s Pocono winner, 1999 CART Champion, 2000 Indy 500 winner and former Williams and McLaren F1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya and completing Penske’s driver line up is new recruit Simon Pagenaud who remained in major contention for the title until the final race with Schmidt.
Target Chip Ganassi Racing: Chip Ganassi’s powerhouse will also field four cars this season with three time IndyCar champion and 2008 Indy 500 winner Scott Dixon, 2003 World Champion and 2013 Indy 500 winner Brazilian Tony Kanaan, 2013 Alabama Indy Grand Prix winner Charlie Kimball and 2013 Indy Lights Champion rookie Sage Karam.
Andretti Autosport: Michael Andretti’s squad will also have a four car lineup this season and will feature 2012 Indy Champion and 2014 Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, Michael’s son Marco Andretti who has been short on success so far in his career, Carlos Munoz and returning to IndyCar from a stint as Sauber F1 Team reserve driver Simona De Silvestro.
A.J. Foyt Enterprises: Legend AJ Foyt’s outfit will have a two car team with Japanese former F1 driver and Honda veteran Takuma Sato and 2014 Houston duel race two podium finisher Jack Hawksworth.
KV Racing Technology: KV Racing will have a two car lineup for 2015 with former GP2 driver Stefano Coletti and four time Champ Car champion and former Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Sébastien Bourdais.
Bryan Herta Autosport: Bryan Herta’s squad will feature Colombian rookie Gabby Chavez and (only for the Indy 500) Brit Jay Howard.
CFH (Carpenter-Fisher-Hartman) Racing: After merging together, Sarah Fisher and Ed Carpenter will field former GP2 driver Luca Filippi will only contest the road and street courses, sharing his number 20 entry with Ed Carpenter who will drive on the ovals. Josef Newgarden will contest all rounds.
Dale Coyne Racing: Dayle Coyne’s driver lineup consists of former Formula Renault 3.5 graduate Carlos Huertas and, for the first four rounds of the championship, Auto GP driver Francesco Dracone.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing: Indy legend Bobby Rahal, television talk show host David Letterman and Businessman Mike Lanigan’s team will field just one car this season with Graham Rahal, who had a memorable second placed finish last season in Detroit – a rare highlight in what was largely an unimpressive campaign.
Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports: Sam Schmidt and Davey Hamilton’s team will consist of a two driver lineup with Canadian James Hinchcliffe making the switch from Andretti and partners former GP2 Asia Series, GP3, Dayle Coyne and Rahal Letterman Lanigan driver James Jakes.
Jonathon Byrd’s Racing: Bryan Clauson will contest the Indy 500 with the number 82 entry with support from KV Racing.
Grand Prix of St Petersburg
|Date||27-29 March 2015||Lap Length||2.897km|
|Free Practice Session 1||Fri 12:30-13:45||Free Practice Session 2||Fri 16:15-17:30|
|Free Practice Session 3||Sat 12:30-13:15||Qualifying||Sat 16:15-17:30|
|Warm-Up||Sun 12:00-12:30||Race (110 laps)||Sun 15:30-17:45|
* Session times are quoted in Eastern Daylight Time (UTC -04:00 hrs)
The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St.Petersburg, Florida has been on the Verizon IndyCar Series calendar since 2005 and was part of the Champ Car World Series in 2003.
The circuit is a 1.9 miles (2.9km) in length with the race distance of 198 miles (319km) with 110 laps.
Legend Paul Tracy won the first race in Champ Car back in 2003 and Sebastien Bourdais holds the fastest lap record from 2003 with a 1:00.928 his Lola B02/00 Ford Cosworth twin-turbo V8.
The late great Dan Wheldon won the inaugural Grand Prix of St. Petersburg as part of the Verizon IndyCar Series back in 2005 with Andretti-Green Racing.
Helio Castroneves from Team Penske holds the most wins with three at St. Petersburg and also Team Penske holds the most wins with six.
Dallara holds seven victories as a manufacturer at St. Petersburg with Honda only one behind with six.
Aussie Will Power comes into the weekend as the previous winner of last year’s event. He also won the event back in 2010.
Practice for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg begins on Friday March 27 with the race concluding Sunday March 29.
Images via IndyCar Series
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