Six drivers from the Verizon IndyCar Series participated in on-track testing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway earlier today. The Manufacturers’ test was scheduled to run all day, but temperatures didn’t reach a warm enough level for running until about 2:30 in the afternoon. A much bigger Open test is scheduled for tomorrow, but rain is expected all day in the Speedway area. Thursday and Friday are potential back-up dates, but both of those days feature a chance of rain, and peak temperatures in the low 40’s. If they are unable to run, April 28 and 29 are the next likely available dates.
The six drivers that turned laps today were Scott Dixon (Ganassi), Helio Castroneves (Penske), Juan Montoya (Penske), Marco Andretti (Andretti), Ed Carpenter (ECR), and Sebastien Bourdais (KV).
The controversial titanium dome skids were being tested today, which are supposed to greatly reduce the chances of a car getting airborne, which is what happened to three Chevrolet cars (Castroneves, Carpenter, Newgarden) involved in accidents last year during practice for the Indianapolis 500. This latest safety mandate has been tested before, when James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay tested them this past off-season in Fontana. Now, they are drawing criticism from some of the drivers, who fear they could dilute the racing next month for the 100th Running of the Indy 500.
Hinchcliffe believes the new underbodies won’t solve any issues, and may actually cause new problems. The Canadian driver told Motorsport.com: “It’s bad, real bad. You can look at all the wind tunnel data you want, but at the end of the day the reality on track is sometimes very different. “We’re going to be producing less downforce in the corners and that’s going to destroy the racing at Indianapolis where there is already only one lane in the corners. The fact domed skids are even being considered is asinine.”
Hunter-Reay also thought that the timing for the new skids was less than ideal. Ryan told RACER.com: “I’m not sure it’s the right package. We have the 100th Indy 500 running coming up and have a lot of eyes on this race. I’m not sure it’s the right time to introduce something new like this; it’s not the time for experiments, in my opinion.”
While the dome skids have been used in sports cars and previous generation IndyCars, they have never been used in competition with this current IndyCar chassis. Drivers fear that the cars will be less stable in traffic, and that the competition will suffer. Graham Rahal said the suspension pieces (the part that pierced Hinchcliffe’s body in last year’s crash) are more likely to break, due to the increased ride height that will cause the suspension pieces to be at maximum extension.
If the weather improves and cars are able to run tomorrow for the open test, fans can watch from the Turn 2 viewing mounds.