Honda Racing MailbagWelcome to the Robin Miller Mailbag as presented by Honda Racing / HPD. You can follow the Santa Clarita, Calif.-based company at and on social media at @HondaRacing_HPD and . Your questions for Robin should continue to be sent to We cannot guarantee we’ll publish all your questions and answers, but Robin will reply to you.

And if you have a question about the technology side of racing, remember that Marshall Pruett tackles them in his Tech Mailbags. Please send tech questions to

Miller Toronto Q: I don't know how credible any of this is but I just read an article by Norris McDonald, Wheels Editor, from the Toronto Star website. His article dated 1/25 is titled "IndyCar on Borrowed Time; TSN, SportsNet Ignore Daytona" cites an email from a 'friend' that claims the following: "I recently read that at least one major IndyCar sponsor isn't with the series this year and two are on their last year and won't renew because of the short season. If that isn't a wake-up call, then what the hell is Miles waiting for?" I'm assuming the one sponsor that was talked about was the National Guard? But have you heard anything about other major sponsors pulling the plug? I will now refer to IndyCar in any future emails I compose as the 'NFL' (for Not F-ing Listening!)
Rob Peterson, Rochester, NY

RM: Not sure which sponsors Norris was referring to but his story echoed what a lot of us have been writing and saying the past several months. I won’t go into detail (yet) but one IndyCar owner told me he sent Miles an email a couple months ago because one of his primary sponsors was going to bail after 2015 unless the season got lengthened by at least two-three months. (BTW, he claims he’s still waiting on a response from Miles). Another owner showed me a letter from a longtime sponsor that declined to be involved this season because a six-month season wasn’t workable. It appears that the only people who think a short season is a good idea is Miles and, of course, the Boston Consulting Group. But the short season isn’t why The National Guard pulled the plug.     

Q: I couldn't help but notice that it was Ganassi's B-team, consisting entirely of full-time IndyCar (Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan) and NASCAR (Kyle Larson, Jamie McMurray) drivers, that took home the checkered flag at the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona. While this might be a boost for IndyCar (as it lends added legitimacy to IndyCar drivers racing sports cars on occasion), I can't help but think it might negatively affect IMSA now that their crown-jewel event has been won by a lineup of non-sports car "ringers." Were I a hard-core IMSA fan, I would be somewhat embarrassed that the series regulars just got taken to school by a hodgepodge of outsiders (likewise, I'm sure many IndyCar faithful would probably have felt the same way had Kurt Busch won the Indy 500). Anyhow, my point is this: While it's definitely a big marketing boost to have these drivers race cross-series on occasion, what does it say about the quality level of the series (especially the talent level of the drivers) when these "ringers" are able to take home trophies? If Will Power were to decide tomorrow that he's going to race the Daytona 500 and actually ends up pulling into Victory Lane come February, I know my first reaction would be to look at the NASCAR regulars and ask "Really? What happened?" Case-in-point, many NASCAR fans point to the fact that the "road course ringers" have not won a Cup race since 1973 as evidence of the all-around quality of today's series regulars. A win in the Daytona 500 by an outsider could potentially be devastating to the perceived talent level of NASCAR drivers. That considered, should steps be taken to minimize cross-series racing? Or is all of this just my imagination?
Garrick, Mobile, AL

RM: I don’t think sports car fans were shocked or put off when A.J. and Dan Gurney won Le Mans or Mario won Sebring and Daytona. And Indy 500 winners and IndyCar champs like Dixie and T.K. were also two of the best road racers in the field with one of the best cars so it’s hardly an upset like Power winning the Daytona 500 would be considered. I think the Rolex revels in the fact it gets some of IndyCar’s best and a NASCAR winner like Jamie Mac to go with many of the top sports car racers. It’s kinda like IROC once a year and it makes people watch or at least care. The fact Kyle Larson was part of that winning team – a strong part, too – only further validates his pedigree.

Miller McMurray LarsonQ: How pleased was Chevrolet/GM after the Rolex 24 as their Corvette DP teams were beaten by Ganassi's Ford, driven by FOUR Chevy (NASCAR/IndyCar) drivers?
Greg (Belleville, NJ)

RM: That’s a good question and one I was wondering myself while watching the victory celebration. Imagine what the reaction might be if Chip wins Le Mans for Ford? But if he wins Indy and the Brickyard, all will be forgiven.  

Q: Did you notice what Jamie McMurray said about IndyCar drivers? He was overwhelming in his praise. How quaint! Did you notice he, (unlike many IndyCar fans who persist in calling NASCAR..NASCRAP and their fans "toothless ignorant red necks"), said not one negative thing. Refreshing and shows that drivers have a respect for drivers from a different discipline! Maybe it would be smart for race fans to be just that – race fans who watch and love "racing" in all its fascinating types, and stop trying to downgrade every thing but what they watch. Are you listening IndyCar fans?
Terrible Ted

RM: I sent Ganassi a text message that said McMurray’s interview was one of the classiest I’d ever heard and to please thank him for speaking so eloquently and honestly – especially about Dixon’s abilities. Very refreshing wasn’t it?

Q: To probably no one's surprise, Kyle Larson performed very well this weekend (to include a long stint at night). Why did the Chipster decide to put Larson on the stock car path instead of the Indy path? Was it a matter of being able to make more money with stock cars, or was it Larson's wishes?
Kyle Lantz

RM: The night in 2011 that Larson swept the USAC Four Crown Nationals at Eldora, I watched in amazement with Tony Stewart from the infield. “This kid has never been here before and he’s only 19 years old,” I kept raving. After he won the midget and sprint features, Stew said he was going to give the kid a check for $10,000 out of his own pocket if he won the Silver Crown race. I said that was great but why don’t you offer him a contract too because all he wants to be is a World of Outlaws or NASCAR driver and you’ve got teams in both. Tony said he didn’t have any place to put him but I know he kicked himself later for not signing Larson. As far as Ganassi, he needed a youth movement in NASCAR and somebody to keep the sponsors excited – he got one. Having said that, Larson wants to run the Indy 500 and I know Chip gets tired of all the lobbying Dario and I do about it but I think it could happen in 2016.  

Q: I've just finished watching the Daytona 24 Hours in which four different classes of cars ran together. Interesting, and no serious problems. So why not run the IndyCar and Indy Lights cars in the same race? Bingo! Full fields, and plenty of passing (though not necessarily for the lead). Lots more for the TV crews to talk about. Interesting in-car camera shots. And a whole other level of conversations for the fans.
Chad R. Larson, Phoenix

RM: I can’t imagine much more passing than there’s been the past three years in IndyCar and blowing past somebody with 300 less horsepower doesn’t really impress me. If IndyCar only had 10 regulars and Lights eight or nine, I guess it could be feasible to try on a road course. But it would be too insane on an oval.

Miller JWil RHRQ: With Aleshin gone, any chance for Justin Wilson at Schmidt Peterson or do they need someone with money?
Dave Nicholls, Whitby, Ontario

RM: As Marshall Pruett wrote a few days ago, that second Schmidt/Peterson seat will be a paid one so we’re all hoping JWil joins Ryan Hunter-Reay at Andretti Autosport because all he’s got is talent and his helmet.

Q: My question is short and sweet this time: what is the likely time frame for when the Honda and Chevy aero kit-equipped cars actually break cover? Now that the designs are submitted, I hope it'll be fairly soon.
Steve C., Ithaca, NY

RM: According to IndyCar’s Will Phillips, the teams will be able to start testing the aero kits on March 13th – after the season opener at Brazil but before St. Pete on March 29th.

Q: I just don't get it! Being with Sierra Jackson in November in Davey Hamilton's King of the Wing West Coast series proves that fans will show up year around! The stands were packed at Madera, Irwindale, and Kern County. The field of cars was almost as big as Indy with 29 starters. Combine the asphalt sprint cars with the Indy cars on the smaller ovals and give the fans a bigger show for their money. If an 800 horsepower, methanol burning beast doesn't rattle your bones, nothing will! If Simona gets a ride in IndyCar and Sierra were there, it would give fans two female drivers to cheer for. It could bring the "Danica excitement back."
Don Holmquist

RM: Not sure if Davey has pitched IndyCar about his winged series but it would be a nice addition to an Iowa or Milwaukee – especially Iowa since it’s a three-day show.
[Click here for the story Robin wrote on Sierra Jackson last December.]

Q: There's been a lot of talk about the top-down promotion of IndyCar. National TV ad buys, Verizon commercials, Firestone commercials etc. What do you think about this: That model is inefficient for the relatively small dollars IndyCar and its sponsors can put behind it.
My thinking: I'm 29, and like most people my age (and I think a much broader age group than that) almost never watches live TV. The NFL is about the only thing anyone watches live. When I watch things online I have an ad-blocker so I never see those ads. When I record shows, I fast forward through the commercials. So when are all the people like me going to see those ads? Unless you completely blanket the airwaves like, say, Budweiser does, the odds of someone catching the commercial are pretty slim. My idea: Go grassroots. Get several crews together to take show cars around the country. Find every parade and festival that will have you. Close off a street and take the car out and blast up and down the road. The snooze-fest that was Pocono on TV last year won't grab anyone's attention, but an IndyCar blowing up eardrums on Main St USA sure as hell will. The DW12 may not be the best looking race car ever, but to an 8-year-old I bet they think it looks pretty badass, especially if they just saw it shooting fire and accelerating faster than anything they've ever seen. It may seem like small potatoes but the local press and word of mouth it would generate would be significant over time I think.
Chris Beasley, Kirkland, WA

RM: I imagine if IndyCar funded it, something like this could be useful during the winter months to promote races coming to the area. And selling discounted tickets or giving away hats, T-shirts and schedules should be part of it along with driver participation. But, until proven otherwise, television is still the way to a sponsor’s heart.

Miller LuyendykQ: RACER’s tributes for Super Tex's 80th birthday linked the infamous video of victory lane at Texas and Mr. Foyt smacking Luyendyk. My question is, who really won that race, Billy Boat or Luyendyk?
Mike Walsh

RM: Arie was clearly the victor to everyone except USAC but A.J. didn’t like it when the two-time Indy winner came into victory lane “mouthin.” [ABOVE - Arie demo-ing Jim Rathmann's 1960 Indy 500-winning Watson-Offy].

Q: I am in complete agreement with you that ovals should be a one-day event in order to give the fans more bang for the buck. With this being said, why not charge $20 for an all access ticket? You'd probably have 40,000 people at Fontana buying parking, food, beer, merchandise instead of 50,000 empty seats.   
Vincent Martinez, Arcadia, CA

RM: A Saturday afternoon race in late June at Fontana is going to be challenging on a number of fronts so ticket prices might not matter. But I’d rather have 20,000 people at $20 a head than 8,000 at $50 because of the chance to sell more concessions and souvenirs. Maybe MAVTV (the title sponsor again) offers a special discount but, clearly, it’s going to take some creative promotions. And I think Dave Allen of Auto Club Speedway will do whatever he can to make it affordable and appealing. I like $40 for a seat and a pit pass (good for both days).       

Q: Just finished reading Sam Schmidt’s IndyCar 2018 article where he mentioned the target audience is 21-35 year olds making $100K-plus. As a 50-year old (25-year car engineer), I’m shocked, speechless and insulted. Or, maybe just dumb as a box of rocks and should find a more suitable hobby. To keep this from a profanity- laced rant questioning the heritage and mental capacity of the person(s) that came up with that target audience, I’ll just ask the following: How many human bodies of the 300 million in the USA meet the criteria? If you were to multiply that number by the marketing industry standard capture rate of your target audience, then divide by the number of races, how many bodies are in the stands or watching on TV, the typical race?
Phillip Thomas

RM: Whoah there: Sam was saying that’s who sponsors tend to target, but his point was that the net should be much wider. I don’t know how many meet that criteria but I guess the 21-35 crowd would be ideal for replacing all us graybeards and it would be interesting to know the average age of the IndyCar fan who travels to races. If you subtract the Indy 500 from the equation, I’m guessing the average attendance (race day) for the other 16 races would be between 25,000-30,000. It seems to me older fans like the ovals while street circuits and road courses appeal to the younger crowd.

Miller Edmonton2005

Q: Canadian racing legend Jacques Villeneuve is one of the lead partners in an exciting new development in the Okanagan. A group of enthusiasts is proposing a semi-private club based around a new 5-kilometre circuit designed to meet the requirements for FIA level 2 events, to be built in the Okanagan valley southeast of Oliver, B.C. I realize it's another "track announcement" but will it be 2017 or 2018 before IndyCar races there? Strikes me that it could be the "Canadian Sonoma" as it is near the wine-growing region of B.C. and an ultra-rich tourist mecca. On the subject of Canadian races, seems to me a "no-brainer" that 3-4 races in Canada (1-2 doubleheaders at that) is a quick and easy add for IndyCar. Why not and where will the new Canadian races be joining the schedule?
Gordon from Dallas

RM: If the track would be built it’s only 15 miles north of the American/Canadian border so a swing to Sonoma would be sensible. There’s also a track supposedly being built in Calgary, and Quebec City was interested a couple of years ago. I’ve always said we could race five times a year in Canada and be well served since those fans really “get” open-wheel racing. But Edmonton started with massive crowds in 2005 [ABOVE - AJ Allmendinger leads RuSPORT teammate Justin Wilson] and couldn’t make it so it’s not a slam dunk that any new Canadian venues will be added.

Q: I've thrown around the idea of attending the St. Pete race to start my racing year and wanted to know what the best value is for the weekend. I always go to Mid-Ohio and love having the ability to roam around and watch the weekend from different sections of the track. What do most fans prefer doing, going with a grandstand seat? Is there a lot of freedom to roam around and watch the race from various vantage points?
Alan Bandi, Butler, PA

RM: The majority of people sit on the front straightaway grandstand at St. Pete (there is a big screen across from it) or outside of Turn 1 (the best seat) and Turn 10 because there’s not a lot of room to roam. Barber, Sonoma and Mid-Ohio offer the most roaming space and plenty of good vantage points for fans who like to wander. And the spectator mounds at IMS aren’t bad either.

Q: Loved your reports from the Chili Bowl and great to see Sarah Fisher driving a midget again! Why did IndyCar not promote this? Huge crowd, good TV audience, popular driver! I guess there isn't racing after Labor Day. How depressing it is to hear that Rico Abreu is going into the K&N NASCAR series. Did anyone in IndyCar even give him a look? In your report you mentioned that Roger Penske asked who he should watch, did anyone grab his interest?
Wally, Eden Prairie, MN
RM: Considering she’d never driven a midget on dirt and hadn’t been in a midget or sprinter for 16 years, Sarah did a damn fine job. She got a great ovation after winning the D Main and people still like her. As I’ve written many times, IndyCar should always have a presence at the Chili Bowl because there are 13,000 people there each night who love open wheel but don’t give a flip about IndyCar racing. I hope Sarah takes Josef Newgarden there next year and lets him run. Besides Sarah, Ed Carpenter and Chip, none of the other IndyCar owners have a clue about Rico but he’ll wind up in Ganassi’s program. Haven’t talked to R.P. since then.

Miller McCluskey 1965Q: Any chance you could do a bench racing segment (Tough Guy series) on Roger McCluskey, the 1973 Champ Car champion (but also Sprint/Stock champion)? I love your segments so far on Herk , Gary B. , Marshman , Pelican Joe . Have you considered publishing your very interesting series of lesser known “behind the scenes” stories of the glory years of Indy racing as a book? Could you consider publishing one of your weekly columns where all of your answers are actually longer than the questions?
Ed Koenig (Indy 500 oldtimer), Sacramento, CA.
P.S. Thanks to you, Marshall and David for keeping us well informed during the DARK PHASE of the year.
RM: I’d like to do something on all those badasses like McCluskey [ABOVE at Indy in ’65 running the AAR-run Hallibrand-Ford] as well as pick out certain races to look back on that I can support with photos. No plans for a book. As far as the Mailbag, fans sometimes take longer to get their thoughts across than I do to answer their questions but that’s just my old newspaper training. During the season I’m always appealing to people to try and keep their questions to four or five small paragraphs because we have such a volume but the longer rants have a better chance during the off-season. Thanks for watching.

Q: A few months ago, I commented in the Tech Mailbag and on the IndyCar Facebook page that it would be nice to have all drivers' sector times available from a race. Last year I was unable to find this information. The 'Stats' section of the IndyCar website now has all drivers' race sector times available in PDF format.  I know a lot of complaints come to your Mailbag, so I wanted to share that the series responded to my request. Thanks IndyCar!
Kyle in Raleigh

RM: Thanks for pointing that out Kyle.

Q: When I wrote a few weeks ago and talked about innovation at Indy, I mentioned Roger Rager and his bus block engine. It seems he has become a cult figure in the Mailbag since then. I know he was a mid-west and Knoxville legend and if you Google him it mentions Indy but not the bus block. Got any stories about him you could pass on to the readers? After all, it is only two years until the next Indy car race so we need something to read about.
Tom in Waco

RM: Just that he was extremely BRAVE in a sprinter and that carried over to his one and only Indy 500 start. To think he qualified 10th in that car and engine combination still ranks as one of the great little guy stories ever at IMS. Hell, he was still racing sprinters a couple years ago so he’s still crazy.

Miller IMS

Q: It is my considered opinion that the car owners and drivers need to have a sit-down round table discussion with Mr. Miles, Mr. Walker, Mari Hulman-George, and the three sisters about the future of the Indianapolis 500-mile International Sweepstakes and the Verizon IndyCar Series. There needs to be a good, honest give and take about where the future lies, and what needs to be done to achieve that goal. Everyone who has a vested interest in the series and the “500” needs to have a voice. This is what IndyCar and the Indy 500 really needs instead of all the bantering currently going on. Please feel free to forward this to the appropriate people if you wish.
John M. Miller II, Zionsville, IN
P.S. I will be celebrating my 60th 500 this year since 1951.

RM: Can’t see it happening. Miles reports to the Hulman & Company board but runs the show and doesn’t seem to value much input from owners, drivers or fans. As for the Hulman-George family, their collective voice seems to be getting weaker.  

Q: As a relatively new IndyCar fan (watched the 500 since I was a kid, and have not missed a series broadcast in about seven or eight years now), I have dragged my family off to four races so far. My teenage girls and wife won’t watch a race on TV unless I point out something outrageous, but they really like the live show. We’ve been to Vegas, Auto Club twice and Long Beach. If this makes it into the Mailbag, I would urge your readers to get to Long Beach if they can as that race is a total blast and on Sunday you get to see Stadium Super Trucks, drifters, TUDOR Championship, Indy Lights, Pirelli World Challenge and of course the big boys of IndyCar. Already have our tickets for Grandstand 7 now.
So here’s the deal: I’ve never been to the Indy 500 and was wondering if you could (just for us Mailbag fans) give a few more insider tips. We can’t make it this year, but my family will be there for the 100th running. I will not miss it. I have seen you say that the Vista seats are a bargain and a pretty good view. But, if this may be our only rodeo for a while (we live in Arizona and go to IndyCar races in southern California), what would be the BEST experience for a family of four? By looking at the grandstand map at Indy, I would pick either Grandstand A or B as they are in the classic Turn 1 at Indy, you have a view of the front stretch and the pit exit. Is that about right? Or is Turn 4 better? Also, any insight on how to secure tickets? I think for the 100th, they may be hard to get. Could you tell us Mailbag fans when, historically, tickets become available for the next race?
I know you get asked these kinds of questions a lot and I appreciate any insight you might have. I know there’s a bunch of crusty old farts who read your Mailbag each week and know all this kind of stuff, but there’s still a whole bunch of us “next generation” fans who are hungry for info and would love any insight you can give us early so that we don’t blow it and miss out on what may be the biggest race a lot of us will ever see.
Gary Nelson, Flagstaff, AZ

RM: I still think any seat fairly high in any of the four corners is the best because you can see passing and who is faster, who is gaining, who is fading, etc. There are big screens so you can keep track of pit stops. But A & B are both good places as well, I’d just want to be as high up as possible. I just called the IMS ticket office and they said next year’s tickets are available for renewal on-line ( ) or at the IMS ticket office at 8 a.m. the day after the race. New customers can also apply at that time but won’t be assigned seats until after the renewal period and upgrade requests.

Q: I was looking for tickets for this year’s 500. I haven’t gone since 2012 because of financial issues and found that the tickets prices have been increased!  I’m dead set on going to the 99th and 100th running so I will pretty much go no matter what the price, but what I just don’t get is if attendance is down, why increase the price when demand is down? The focus should be to get more fans not prevent fans that are on the fence from going; isn’t that basic economics? I hope they spend the extra money advertising, dare I say, during the Super Bowl! Spend some money on promoting IndyCar and the 500 during hockey games, football games or in prime time and, as I’ve said 100 times, there should be commercials, toys, promotions etc. How do you think NASCAR got name recognition?
Tony, Mamaroneck, NY

RM: I believe one of the Boston Consulting Group’s theories was (I’m paraphrasing) to not worry so much about making new fans at Indianapolis but rather gouge the ones you’ve already got. Yes, there are still plenty of empty seats on Race Day and it seems like prices would either stay the same or be lowered in those hard-to-sell sections until it’s a sellout again. Compared to an NBA or NFL game, Indy remains a pretty good bargain. But charging $50 to park in the infield on Race Day is hardly fan- friendly in my mind.  

Miller internet

Q: I’ve been reading RACER’s IndyCar 2018 series with interest. When they are right, they are very right, and when they are wrong, it's easy to see why IndyCar is in the shape that it is in.
IndyCar needs to define its fans and income sources. Look to the NFL for inspiration. The NFL works hard to increase the fan experience and to fill the stands, but if the stands are empty for the Super Bowl all that would mean is there are 80,000 more people watching the game at home. Their biggest concern is media ratings and the income they get from broadcasting. Ticket sales are nice, but revenue sharing keeps the NFL alive.
IndyCar needs to stop thinking about TV packages and start thinking about broadcasting their sport. TV coverage on ABC and ESPN is good, but if you go much lower than that down the cable channels, you are limited. If every single subscriber to NBCSN watched every single IndyCar race, you will always be a minor sport. Start broadcasting IndyCar as an internet sport. There are companies that provide ratings for internet feeds just like they do for cable and over the air broadcasting. You can keep the traditional broadcasts as a secondary coverage, but internet broadcasts provides you with a worldwide market and you can still sell ads for it. Internet matches the high tech image IndyCar once had.
Broadcast the sport, not just the races. Look at the WWE and their new WWE network. Again, they are not looking for ticket sales for live events. All their live events do is provide inventory for their network and they are using their network to provide a dollar value for years of old inventory. How much old inventory does indyCar have? WWE is providing programs about their performers, groups of performers, about their female performers, workout programs with their performers. There is a lot of potential for IndyCar to do the same.
Sell the series, not just the races. I'm a big fan of the NFL, college football, and IndyCar. I've never been to a NFL game, never been to an IndyCar race and have not been to a college football game in years. Lots of reasons, but the main one is that the viewing experience is better at home than in person. I'm the fan you have to get and keep. Make it easy for us to be fans, watch the races and increase the ratings. IndyCar needs to admit that they will never get me to a race. Age, money, location, other factors make that a fact that will not change. Major sports have already admitted that and I watch as many college games on ESPN3 as on traditional TV.
IndyCar as an internet broadcast increases the viewer experience. Live timing and scoring is just a click away. You can place live video cameras in each car and the viewer can decide which ones to watch. Easy to put cameras in the pits. The other change is the schedule. IndyCar clearly needs to start earlier in the year and run later. Fans like the doubleheaders and IndyCar needs more of them. The selection of new or return race venues should become easier if you are looking at them as creating new broadcast properties. Lower the fees IndyCar charges the venues. Let the local promoters have 100 percent of the ticket sales, parking and concessions. IndyCar's money should come from the internet broadcasts and ad sales. The teams get the prize money and revenue sharing.
Long vent, sorry.
John Womack

RM: Bernie always says he doesn’t care if anybody comes to an F1 race because his television package and audience are the largest. He’s not lying either. But, right now IndyCar must have television and if NBC were allowed to carry a few races to cross-promote with NBCSN it would be a good package with ABC. Obviously, having every race on a national network is ideal but not even NASCAR has that and FOX and CBS aren’t knocking down IndyCar’s door. The key for IndyCar will be what happens when the current NBCSN deal expires. Having said all that, your idea about making IndyCar an internet vehicle is interesting and it’s something Kevin Kalkhoven took a serious look at with Champ Car after the disaster on SPIKE. Since everyone lives on an iPad or computer or tablet, it makes sense you might attract more viewers than with conventional TV in a few years. The auxiliary programming is something that’s needed 12 months a year to try and familiarize people with IndyCar drivers or at least keep IndyCar on the map during a six-month layoff. Again, the ideal spot is probably a show on ESPN2 or FOX Sports1 or NBC Sports Saturday during the winter months, but it’s all about supply and demand and there’s not much demand for IndyCar so it has to be purchased. Would IndyCar be better served with just a channel on YouTube? Possibly. When you see how many hits a Ken Block video gets, you wonder if IndyCar just shouldn’t shove everything except the Indy 500 and month of May on the internet. I’m not sure sponsors are ready to head down that path just yet and they likely will be the key. But you have presented an interesting scenario that may need to be considered sooner rather than later.

Note: For those with more IndyCar 2018 ideas, please send to       

[If you want to know what the editor's watching on YouTube in the picture above, click here…]


Robin Miller flunked out of college in 1968 but got a lifetime break when he was 18 by joining The Indianapolis Star and has been covering IndyCar racing ever since for various publications including RACER, Car&Driver, Autoweek, MotorSport, Autosport and Sports Illustrated. He also worked on ESPN's RPM2Night from 1999-2003 before joining SPEED and WIND TUNNEL from 2004 to 2013. He was fired as free help at Indy by his racing hero Jim Hurtubise, bought his first racecar from Andy Granatelli, was bitch-slapped by A.J. Foyt for questioning Super Tex's straightaway speeds and spent eight years and all his money racing USAC midgets from 1975-’82. Today Miller covers IndyCar and open-wheel for where his Mailbag is published 52 weeks a year in addition to commentaries, news stories and videos.   

Rolex 24 HPD Silhouette 4508 900 506 80 cRACER's Marshall Pruett sat down with ACO Sporting Director Vincent Beaumesnil (with Sebastien Bourdais, BELOW) shortly after the checkered flag fell on the 53rd Rolex 24 at Daytona, where the two discussed his first visit to the event, the ACO's ongoing relationship with IMSA, the manufacturers' meeting organized by the ACO in Florida that takes place today and, for the bulk of their 30-minute conversation, the direction for the common platform P2 car set to debut in 2017.

MARSHALL PRUETT: Great to see you, Vincent, especially after some delays getting here – is this your first time at the Rolex 24?

Le Mans natives Borudais and Beaumesnil after the Rolex 241VINCENT BEAUMESNIL: Yes, I only got to see a little bit of the race. I spent quite a lot of time in the pits visiting the teams because I know all those guys. Also we have a good discussion with our friends at IMSA. I am a little disappointed; I had to arrive last night because I had very important meetings in France on Friday so I couldn't fly before. It is a fantastic experience. It is another world, but it is a 24-hour race. Very interesting.

MP: Speaking of IMSA, how is the relationship going from your perspective under the new united organization?

VB: We are very happy that we continue the partnership we started with Don Panoz and now we continue this partnership with our friends of NASCAR with Jim France and those guys. We have a very constructive way to work. It's a real partnership. I think it's important. We can build something strong together. They are the reference in the U.S. They have a strong championship; we build something else around the world and Le Mans. And we have common interests in many areas. I think it is really the way we want to work together.

MP: You're here to lead the second meeting regarding the 2017 global P2 regulations, which IMSA has confirmed it will adopt. I spoke with GM Racing director Mark Kent on Friday, and he expressed his desire to come away from Tuesday's meeting with a clearer view of what those regulations will contain, and whether it would be something a GM or other manufacturers would want to follow. Is it possible to make that much progress on Tuesday?

VB: Definitely. I mean, it's always something heavy to organize such a meeting, having people traveling from all over the world to come here. We did the first meeting in September in Paris. Now it was time to come here in the U.S. To be clear, the first meeting was not as productive as we expected. Also because it was the first meeting, I think that people come more to look what is happening and listen what's happening than to say what they really want. But we had some indications.

Now the second meeting for us is clearly the time to put on the table what are the real options we have in front of us. Get the feedback from the manufacturers. Their reaction. And it is really the time for everybody to put on the table really what they have in their mind based on what kind of options we should suggest. From there, we, the ACO, FIA and IMSA are working together to build this car. For me it's difficult to say where we will be Tuesday evening, but I'm really hoping that we will have a clear view, because then the time is short after.

MP: Everyone gets very busy with the new WEC season and IMSA's calendar taking off, and Le Mans on the horizon, too, etc. From discussions so far, there's an interesting difference in the future desires for the P2 class. In Europe, it's a privateer class, by rule, yet in America, with DPs and P2s combined in a single class right now, the 2017 car would need to accommodate factories and privateers because we do not have a P1 class for manufacturers to compete. How do you address different – regional – needs with a global car?

VB: First, we all believe, IMSA, ACO, FIA and the manufacturers and the teams, we all believe that having a new global car is good for the future of the series. We have to make it properly, for sure. We don't have exactly the same approach with this car in here, in Europe, because here there is also some ambition to attract some money for manufacturers with this prototype and we don't have this ambition in Europe because the LMP1 category is dedicated to OEMs and LMP2 is dedicated to private teams. But we share so many, many other targets about the cost of the car, the close competition, and about the way the car has to achieve that. I am pretty sure that we will find common ground. Now we will spend some time with the manufacturers and see what goes on. Tuesday we definitely need to make progress.

cv 15MP: The most common desire I hear mentioned in America is the ability to make custom bodywork for the 2017 car, similar to what Ford and Chevy have done with their DPs. Is this reasonable from the ACO's perspective, and if so, how would you balance these P2 bodies from IMSA to be used at Le Mans if an American team comes over to race in France? It seems like a BoP headache.

VB: I'm really not in the position to answer this question because you have so many ways to do that. For sure, Le Mans is the place where everybody will come to race for maybe the most important race of the year, I would say. Even if Daytona and Sebring, Petit Le Mans are also very, very important. All these races are very important. But Le Mans is maybe special.

If we have something different here in the USA, then the concept of balancing is entering the discussion, and our mission is not to balance the car. It's a question that needs to be asked and discussed. I'm not in a position to say if it is OK or not. It depends on what everyone wants to do. It is not easy to answer this now.

When people say they want to have the ability to customize the bodywork, what does this mean? Is it just a flat area to put manufacturer stickers or is it a complete engine cover? It's not the same thing. We need to know more on this.

MP: Another major question for 2017 involves the eligibility of the new P2 coupes like the Ligier and HPD. Manufacturers have spent a considerable amount to make the cars; teams have spent a lot to buy them, and I know there's a concern those coupes might be obsolete two years from now. Can you tell me if you expect the new coupes to be part of the 2017 solution – possibly grandfathered in?

VB: First thing is we want something global, we want to reduce the cost of the car, and we want to make it a little bit faster. We think it is possible. So now we must decide one day there must be a change to achieve that. So we can say it is never time to do it, but at some stage you must say, OK, it will be '17. We announced that quite a long time ago. So the manufacturers have decided anyway to make new cars. It is their decision, we never pushed anybody to make new cars, and we said there will be a new car in '17. We don't want to be enforced by manufacturers who say, 'Oh, we have a new car so now you need to take our cars.' You knew that we were making a new car in '17. You decided to make it today, OK, but you already knew we would change in '17.

But clearly, yes, one strong option is to have continuity in the chassis rules with LMP2, LMP1, common rules we have today, which I think are very good rules, especially in terms of safety. For sure, we will consider that. But for the rest, we will see in the rest of the discussion what we decide on many aspects. The engine rules will have a big impact on this. We have also in mind that some additional devices, in terms of safety, could be implemented in the car. At this stage, yes, if we can help them with keeping their new cars to compete, this we will do. But this must not stop the work in progress to have the best compromise.

MP: You've also had a separate P2 engine committee meeting on the best direction to go in 2017. I've heard the requirement for production-based engines could become an option, rather than a requirement, too.

VB: In the engines, we have many options in front of us. Something we know today is that it is the same cost to develop a full race engine and a production-based engine, or to start from zero to make a proper race engine. It's not cheaper to use a production-based engine. This is something we know.

We can continue with the engines we have now, production-based, like the Nissan, the Honda, the others. We can open to other kinds of race engines, proper race engines. From there you can have options. You can decide to make a standard single definition of engine. It is also here, I expect Tuesday to have more feedback on this. Also because our American partners have some targets and the engine approach has to be discussed more for the moment. It's more today a question of targets than telling what kind of engine. And the targets are to reduce the cost, to make it last longer, and to produce more power because we want to increase the performance. So this is clearly the targets we have.

Then, for sure in the U.S., probably they would prefer to have more different engines to attract manufacturers. In Europe, with privateers, maybe this approach is not so relevant.

Rolex 24 Soul Red Mazda 4519 640 360 80 cMP: If the ACO is open to purebred racing engines and production-based units in P2 – a nice change, I must admit – are there any limits being placed on the 2017 specification, or is it wide open?

VB: We already told them there is no future for diesel in P2. Balancing this is just a nightmare. We cannot go in that direction. If you start in a category like that in which we try to control the cost, close competition, everything, someone comes with the diesel with the support of the manufacturer, and it changes too much for everybody. They win the race and everybody will say it's because the diesel has an advantage. The diesel is for P1. In P2, we make the same rule for everyone. Makes life more simple.

MP: Timeline for announcing the 2017 rules is the last major question that needs to be solved. Depending on the size of the manufacturer – engine or chassis – some will need as much time as possible to ready new products. I'd think Le Mans in June would be a natural place to unveil the 2017 P2 regs, but can't say if all of the feedback and research will be done in time to present the findings.

VB: Announcing something at Le Mans is maybe a bit ambitious considering that we are in January and, OK, we will see what comes out from Tuesday's meeting. In any case, at the end of this year, we must have a set of rules which are quite advanced. Yes, we would like to have the guidelines defined by June and have to work on the details of the rules in the summer, September, October... But it is really important that, in any case, by June we have the guidelines and, I would say, the main information the manufacturer, constructor, needs to have to start the study of his car, because it also makes part of the stability of FIA rules.

When you make new rules it must be 18 months before the season. Technical rules must be adopted six months in June the year before if you make just update rules, but if you make new rules it is 18 months. It is what we are targeting.​

01272015 WatchRolex24 1680x651Watch the full race broadcast from the 53rd Rolex 24 at Daytona

Re-live the thrilling moments from the season-opening 53rd Rolex 24 At Daytona at Daytona International Speedway. All 24 hours of FOX Sports and overnight coverage can be streamed on the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship YouTube channel, as well as with the embedded videos below.

In addition, you can listen to all 24 hours of IMSA Radio coverage, a co-production with Radio Show Limited, on HERE

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

MX5lead RichardCoburnaLooking to make the leap from weekend warrior to professional racer? The jump may not be as big as you think.

It takes big money and a lot of manpower to fund a competitive entry in most professional racing series. The 2015 SCCA Pro Racing Battery Tender Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires, however, tends to buck the system and is one of the best bangs for the buck if you're looking to take your racing to the next level.

The 2015 MX-5 Cup series is visiting legendary racing venues during its six-weekend, 12-race season, which supports the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, IndyCar, and the NASCAR XFINITY Series. All great opportunities for aspiring career races, and great memory makers for the casual competitor who wants to try the series on as it visits their home track.

While it's still possible for privateer racers to make it in MX-5 Cup, those with the most experience generally wind up on the top step. Going it alone at the professional level can be an uphill battle, but this series has affordable options. Many of the top teams offer season long arrive and drive packages for those wishing to chase the championship and the lucrative Mazdaspeed Ladder bonus, while other teams offer one-off weekend rentals if they have an open car, allowing potential competitors to sample the series as it visits their favorite track.

"Having come from a husband/wife team, grass-roots effort many years ago, there is a lot to be said for going at it alone," says Ara Malkhassian, owner of 2014 championship winning Alara Racing. "There is certainly a lot of satisfaction and pride in doing your own work. On the other hand, it is very time consuming to perform all the different aspects of preparation at a pro racing event, and there are elements that simply cannot exist in that environment."

The logistics of a professional racing weekend differ from typical club level weekends, and it can be exhausting for a small team. "The level of preparation on a pro team is completely different," Malkhassian explains. "We have dedicated resources for car maintenance, chassis setup and engineering, driver coaching and data management, fuel management, tire management, etc. It's a level of professionalism that has to be experienced to be fully appreciated.

"Being able to let the driver focus on driving without distractions is a huge plus. That, combined with having several teammates to work with towards improving lines, braking points, comparing setup changes with, etc., all add up to create a complete experience that gives our clients their best opportunity to achieve their racing goals."

MX5 SeanRiceIf you already own an MX-5 Cup car, you don't have to go it alone; some teams offer trackside support programs tailored to fit your needs and budget. Privateer MX-5 Cup competitor Steve Bottom was a one-time regular to the series, but now frequents only select rounds; he has seen the benefits of trackside support first hand with his privately owned MX-5 Cup racecar.

"By paying one of the big teams, I tap into their knowledge base," says Bottom. "They know how to set up the car. They know what the baseline shock setting and alignment cross weights should be for a particular track. Then, over the weekend, they will be fine-tuning everything, from the amount of gas to camber to ride height. I get the tire engineering support from the BFGoodrich Tires engineers, and am able to give their tire temps and pressures to the team, and the team adjusts the car accordingly."

2014 MX-5 Cup season runner up John Dean II tells us his Sick Sideways team has one seat open for the 2015 season, with a price tag of $83,000. When you look at the demands on your time and resources needed to tow to the events around the country, an MX-5 Cup arrive and drive, season-long program may provide the value you are looking for.

To find MX-5 Cup teams offering rentals or trackside support, visit, and for the latest in racing action from the 2015 MX-5 Cup series, or news on upcoming Global MX-5 Cup series, visit

Red Bull launch 2014, Daniel Ricciardo

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Red Bull has given itself the shortest build-time yet for a new Formula 1 car, after electing to lock down its final 2015 design as late as it possibly could.

With the first pre-season test kicking off at Jerez in Spain on Sunday, Red Bull's new Renault-powered challenger has only just begun construction at its Milton Keynes, UK base. That move comes after design chiefs were given the green light to maximize development time on the car to ensure the team did not let any opportunity go to waste in its bid to topple Mercedes.

Team principal Christian Horner said during a Red Bull media event in Milton Keynes on Tuesday that, although there was no danger of missing the first test, things were still pretty fraught at the factory to get the car finished and shipped to Spain.

When asked if the car was ready to run, he said: "Not yet. The car is flat out in to car build at the moment. It's probably the shortest production and assembly in our previous 10 seasons.

"It is unbelievable what the factory have turned around so far. But still there is plenty to do before Sunday."

Horner said he was encouraged by the wind tunnel data that had been produced for the new car, as Red Bull prepares to have a smoother pre-season than the disaster it endured in 2014.

"After the first test last year, hopefully this one cannot be any worse than that," he said. "I think we managed about four laps over four days and car would either stop on track or set on fire."

"It has been a far more positive winter compared to last year. We know where the benchmark is and what we need to achieve. As the team continues to evolve and grow, it has been I think the most impressive winter we have had as a team.

"That is in terms of everything coming together - in terms of the car being produced in the shortest time ever, and the design hitting all their deadlines and targets."



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CMS Media Tour France 012615NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France said Monday afternoon that the new format for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup adopted last year will remain unchanged for 2015.

France (RIGHT), speaking at the kickoff event for the 2015 Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour presented by Technocom, said the sanctioning body is coming off "perhaps our greatest Chase and certainly in recent memory. A lot of excitement, a lot of momentum."

Last year was the first time NASCAR used the expanded format for the Chase, with a field of 16 drivers, three elimination rounds that knocked out four drivers each, and a winner-take-all, season-ending race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

"It's overwhelmingly popular with our most important stakeholder, the fans," said France of the Chase. " ... They like the fact that it tightened up competition. They liked the drama down the stretch. They like the emphasis on winning. And one of the things they told us that they really liked is the idea that we weren't going to change anything. And they strongly suggested that we didn't. And we're not going to."

France said he received good suggestions on Chase tweaks – including from drivers who were eliminated early on and thought the Chase drivers should have their own points system.

"One of the magical parts of this Chase – and we want to make sure we keep it this way – is the simplicity of it," said France. "Win and you're in."

One change this year will occur on pit road, where NASCAR will use a series of 46 high-definition cameras to detect violations such as too many crew members over the pit wall or pitting outside the box. The cameras feed into computers, with NASCAR officials inside a trailer able to approve or override penalties the cameras detect. The cameras will also feed data to NASCAR's broadcast partners, race teams and fans.

"We think it's a game-changer," said NASCAR executive vice president Steve O'Donnell.

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IndyCar2018jGordon Kimball, the respected designer whose cars won at Indianapolis and in Formula 1, goes to the IndyCar races these days as a spectator to cheer on son Charlie, Chip Ganassi Racing driver. But the man whose Wildcat captured the exciting 1982 Indy 500 with Gordon Johncock behind the wheel and who, alongside John Barnard, also played a major role in the Chaparral 2K many successful McLaren and Ferrari Formula 1 cars of the 1980s, has some definite thoughts about IndyCar’s future. He shared them with RACER’s Robin Miller.

KImball portrait

RACER: How do you regard today’s Verizon IndyCar Series?
GK: We have as good a racing series as there is in the world, maybe the best in terms of the quality of the racing. We just don’t have the number fans we should. We need to work on what makes people come to races, what makes people watch races on television, and how we get more of them.

A lot of people seem to think innovation is the answer.
As an engineer, I agree we would be better off with racecar diversification and technology on show. But there are risks in different cars and technology. First, I don’t know if we can afford it yet. What we have right now is very cost efficient. We have incredible races. For the quality of racing, the dollars are well spent. Second, it will inevitably mean some teams have little or no chance of winning when they are on the short end of an innovation. After so many years of spec cars, everyone involved enjoys a pretty equal chance of winning. That was not the case in the “good old days.” Are we really ready to go back to that?”

Does the racing look too safe or too easy?
It looks too easy, for sure. It is too hard to see the driver’s skill. Running flat and on the limit at Indianapolis takes enormous skill and courage, but from the outside, the car looks like it is on rails. The fans get no sense of the challenges the driver is facing unless he crashes, which is expensive and puts the race on pause. Watching a driver get a little Kimball Helio sidewayssideways puts their skill on display. Let’s have more power and less downforce and get back to where the fans can see the driver’s skill. But it does not mean it has to be less safe.

Will a “new track record” at Indy bring back the masses?
I don’t think we need to run 240 or 250mph to entertain the fans at Indy. Big numbers are great but it’s a road to nowhere. Every year the speeds have to go up to be “better” than the year before. The crashes will get bigger and more expensive and the safety issues will become exponentially more expensive to overcome. It is not necessary. A car sliding through a turn at 180mph makes a much better show than a car on rails at 240. And it is much safer for the drivers and the fans. Big speed numbers do not make a good show.”

But no going back to skinny tires and front-engine cars?
You cannot un-ring the technology bell. You can’t go backwards. We always remember the good parts of the good old days. Really, they weren’t all that great. Drivers were regularly hurt or killed. Only a few drivers and teams had a realistic chance of winning. Everyone was scratching for money. Do we really want to go back to that?”

ABOVE: Helio Castroneves getting it sideways at Long Beach, 2014 (LAT image).
BELOW: Start of the 1959 Indianapolis 500 (IMS image).

Kimball 1959 Indy500start

Kimball Wildcat

ABOVE: Gordon Johncock in Gordon Kimball's Wildcat design. Johncock would go on to win the 1982 Indy 500 in the Patrick Racing-run machine, and added triumphs at Milwaukee and Michigan. (IMS image).
BELOW: Gordon's son, Charlie at Mid-Ohio 2014, where he won in ’13.
(LAT image)
BOTTOM: "Fanbase" needs to be the key word for IndyCar, according to G.Kimball. (LAT image)


Let’s put you in charge of IndyCar rules right now.
My mindset is about how do we go faster under the rules instead of what should the rules be. I’m ill-equipped to work on the rules-making side. However, if money was not an issue, technology and innovation would be great. But technology is not cheap. Look at the aero kits: to do them well has probably cost each manufacturer millions of dollars in design and testing alone. As an engineer, I would love open rules. But for now let’s take measured steps. We’ve got to make sure each step grows the series and not cripples it with unsustainable costs.”

What if you were an engineer today on an IndyCar?
I’d have no interest. There is nothing creative you can do other than the body kits. But that is pretty much the norm in racing now. Other than Formula 1 and the World Endurance Championship, everything else is spec because of cost. That’s just life.

Are there areas to explore right now that aren’t too expensive?
I do not know about the “too expensive part,” but suspension is the next obvious area to Kimball MidO Charlieopen up to innovation. Maybe you could get technology companies like Boeing or SpaceX to build uprights, then make them available to everyone at a reasonable cost like the aero kits. That’s not a bad model.

The general concern right now seems to be the same one Indy car racing had in the late 1970s – other than the Indy 500, the series has mostly become a host of races nobody attends or follows. Is that too harsh?
It is too harsh…or maybe just too cynical. We have plenty of very successful races besides the Indy 500. St. Pete, Barber Motorsports Park, Long Beach, Mid-Ohio and Detroit come to mind. Still, I can’t believe how many people come up to me months after the Indianapolis 500 and say: “I saw Charlie’s race – [meaning the Indy 500] – what’s he doing now?” They have no idea he races 16 more times across the country. IndyCar’s No. 1 priority should be marketing and promotion. We have fantastic racing. Obviously that is not enough today. We need to do a better job engaging and satisfying the fans.

What are your thoughts on the current race schedule?
It makes absolutely no sense to be a marketing machine that shuts down for six months a year. It defies logic. I can’t see how the teams are convincing sponsors to pay the same amount for six months of marketing that they used to pay for nine. And what about disappearing from our fan base for six months a year? Tell me how that makes any sense at all? If the television ratings are the Holy Grail, then get all the races on network television where everyone can watch. We need to be strong and aggressive in marketing IndyCar, not running and hiding the minute we face competition.

Final thoughts…
In spite of our self-inflicted wounds, there’s still huge value in IndyCar – we’ve just got to start un-locking it. We have to do a better job than we did 10-15 years ago because there is so much more competition nowadays. Roger Penske is right. The first thing we have to do is stop fighting among ourselves. Then we have to have a goal and a strategic plan. The goal has to be to build IndyCar by giving the fans more reasons to attend races or to watch on television or their portable electronic devices. Fanbase, fanbase, fanbase – it is the only thing that matters. without it we are nothing. More fans will mean more marketing value. More marketing value means more dollars for the promoters, the teams and the drivers. But most of all, everyone involved has to want to fix it, and be willing to take the steps necessary to make it better.

Kimball Detroit crowd

Lotus E23 2015

The digital renderings released by Lotus of its 2015 E23 Formula 1 car (scroll down for larger images) allow us to already make some observations about the new challenger.

Every new car this year will be assessed on its nose shape due to the new nose tip rules. Lotus has evolved the 2015-style nose it tested late last year to create a short narrow nose. This shapes the two mandatory cross sections into the narrowest and highest possible shape to allow the maximum airflow around and under the nose.

Rather than creating a thumb-like tip to the nose, instead there is a step under it, which is similar to Lotus (then Renault) nose cones from 2009-'10. This should work in coordination with the front wing section to create some downforce.

Although further rules for the area around the front end were designed to create a sloping front to the chassis, Lotus appears to have faired this in and created a high flat top to the chassis.

Lotus E23 2015

This height is visually exacerbated by the low-mounted front suspension, where the top wishbone and pushrod are not mounted as high as we have seen on the Williams, for example, which could be an effort to create more mechanical grip at the front of the car.

Aside from the novelty of the new nose, it's the roll hoop inlets that catch the eye: the usual airbox inlet is flanked by two additional inlets.

The bulbous shape of the engine cover behind suggests they are ducts to feed an oil cooler mounted beside the engine, a solution adopted by Toro Rosso last year and planned by Marussia for this year. Lotus had the base plates for these inlets fitted to its car late last year but the inlets were never affixed to them.

Having coolers mounted this way means the sidepods can be smaller, although the bodywork looks bulkier on the new Lotus as it features two large exits in a similar style to McLaren's 2014 car. Allied to the roll hoop inlets this creates a narrower sidepod low down, which frees up airflow over the diffuser for more downforce.

Inside this engine cover is the Mercedes power unit, a first for the team, having always had strong links with Renault, dating back to the Benetton days. Running this power unit already gives the team a huge performance step from 2014, which was a year to forget for the team.

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Force India 2015 livery launch

With Formula 1's 2015 cars set to hit the track at Jerez this weekend, attention will soon be on the critical details of these new challengers.

The limited imagery we have seen of the 2015 cars so far points to the noses being the only major change in the car designs for this year. However, teams will still be plotting their response to the domination of Mercedes in 2014 and there is plenty to look out for on both the chassis and power units.

Here are the key influences that will shape the technical battleground in 2015:


The key visual difference to the 2014 cars will be the nose. Last year's nose tip regulations proved controversial thanks to the ugly designs they spawned – be they fingers, U-shapes or even the Lotus twin tusk.

As well as the bad aesthetics, the FIA's fear that slim nose tip sections were not ideal for crash protection prompted a 2015 rethink. Now the rules require not only a low nose tip of minimum cross section (9,000mm2), but another legality section over twice as large (20,000mm2) another 100mm behind it.

Along with limits on how the nose tapers back to the chassis and how sloped the front of the chassis can be, the rules were supposed to ensure far more attractive, low wedge-shaped noses. However, the 2015 Williams graphic, plus the nose that Force India showed at its livery launch, point toward there still being a stub on the cars.

The new nose section near the front wing has a big aero impact, initially losing some 60 points of downforce from the blockage it creates.

For teams, the debate will be over long or short noses. Lotus tested a short nose late last year, but most teams are likely to opt for a longer nose with the tip sitting ahead of the front wing center section.

How the teams shape these two legality sections will vary, though. It is likely most will shrink the nose shape to a minimum creating a short thumb-like extension to the nose. It will be interesting to see if anyone can come up an inventive solution within the very tight wording of the rules.

1417084720POWER UNITS

Development of the power unit – combustion engine, turbo, energy recovery systems (ERS) and battery – was a key technical battleground in 2014. Clearly Mercedes made the best job of the new formula.

Catching up will be difficult, with the gap to be closed estimated to be around 50hp. But matters have been eased by the FIA allowing the use of development tokens throughout 2015.

A key feature of the Mercedes power unit was its split turbo, where the air compressor was mounted at the front of the engine and the hotter exhaust turbine at the rear. They were linked by a shaft. This setup had benefits in terms of cooling and turbo lag, but most importantly allowed a very large compressor to be used for more power from the combustion engine. Turbo lag was managed by both wastegate, pop-off valves and the ERS-H.

It is likely teams will want to exploit this larger compressor concept, but not necessarily via a complex split turbo. Honda has a split turbo setup on its V6.

Aside from this key area, new for 2015 is the allowance of movable inlet trumpets, a feature not seen since the mid 2000s. These are normally used to boost mid-range power and smooth any dips in the power curve, although the current generation of power units are already strong in this area.




With nearly every other parameter, such as tires and engines, closed to individual team development, aerodynamics remains the key area that a team can directly influence its own performance.

Last year's nose and wing changes did little to prevent the relentless increase in downforce. For 2015, only the nose regulation will affect aero, so the rest of the car's bodywork surfaces can continue to be twisted into ever more effective aerodynamic shapes.

The winter power unit development is likely to require that even more heat is shed from a car, so teams will have to incorporate more cooling and larger sidepods. However, the key development area is likely to be the front wing, especially the mounting pylons. Look out also for the nose turning vanes that direct airflow around the back of the car.

At the rear, there will be more complex diffusers, with less intrusion from the boat-tail center section and more vanes separating the volume under the rear of the car.

Mercedes was one of the few teams to incorporate the rear monkey seat winglet into the exhaust, so this is also going to be a probable development direction.

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, F1 2014


Running the front of an F1 car as close to the ground as possible has been a key feature since 2009. This lowers the front wing, which creates a ground effect scenario, and raises the rear of the car to create a larger space under the diffuser.

The limit in doing this though was in keeping the front "tea-tray" splitter off the ground, in order to reduce the wearing away of the plank and skid blocks.

Teams developed hydraulically linked suspension, known as FRIC (Front-to-Rear Inter-Connected), to manage the front ride height under braking. This system used passive hydraulics to keep the front propped up under braking and reduce plank wear. Although this was banned mid-season in 2014, teams continued to run complex hydraulic suspension but without the front to rear connections.

For 2015, teams will have had time to develop and incorporate similar complex hydraulics optimized to manage front ride height without the banned interconnections, although the mandatory use this year of titanium skid blocks that wear away quickly will ensure they take extra care with ride height.

The detail of these systems will take some time to surface, but it will be a key focus for the teams.



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Robin Miller's IndyCar "fireside chats"


TUDOR United SportsCar Championship: Interviews and insights from Marshall Pruett.

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