One of the first motor sport articles I looked at this morning was one on Autosport entitled “IndyCar engine firms relaxed about 2012 car’s pace so far.” The gist of the article is that Honda Performance Development (HPD) and GM aren’t concerned about the 2012 car – the DW12 – being slower than the previous generation of IndyCar. Included are several quotes from Roger Griffiths, HPD Technical Director that may interest IndyCar fans:
I had quite a long chat with one of my counterparts at GM, and we kind of concluded that to us, if we’re racing at Indy at 215 mph rather than 225, it really doesn’t matter as long as the racing is good.
If the racing is poor, and we’re slow, then that’s obviously a problem. But if it takes us three years to get back up to 225, so what? At the end of the day, it’s a number.
In a vacuum, I wouldn’t disagree, but realistically I would expect the new car to at least equal the performance of the old car. Those statements could definitely stir the pot among the hardcore and faithful IndyCar fans who are expecting the new car to be faster than the previous generation and are looking for track records to fall. It may also be hard to swallow for the casual fan who tunes in to the Indianapolis 500 to find that the new car is 5-10 mph slower than the old one. That could be an issue in bringing new fans into the sport and generating increased interest in the sport.
If the car is difficult to drive, that’s good. That means the good drivers will do well and the drivers that aren’t as good won’t do as well. If [the DW12] is right at its performance limit to start, what are we going to do with it for the next five years? We’d be starting off right where we just ended up with the previous car.
Having a car that’s difficult to drive is one thing, but having a car that is wickedly ill handling is another, and that’s what early reports from drivers that tested the DW12 on oval tracks indicated. Luckily, Will Phillips, the IndyCar technical committee, and Dallara have been working toward fixes and the performance is expected to improve before the 2012 season begins.
I’m not ready to bad mouth Dallara for the problems the DW12 has seen thus far. I believe that what we’ve seen is the fruit of compressed development which is partially the fault of IndyCar for waiting so long to introduce a new car. Although I may not be bad mouthing Dallara, there are certainly those that are. That discontent could now spread to HPD and GM with these comments from Griffiths. It has been and will continue to be an interesting off season for IndyCar. Are storm clouds building on the horizon?