• To improve the quality of the racing, do you ever think of allowing more time for free practice? It seems one hour on Friday and another on Saturday is not enough and if a team needs to make a change like a transmission or engine, they really don't have any time to do that and then still find a good setup on the car. More practice would help the smaller teams with less experienced team members and/or drivers.
DW: I think the reason we migrated away from a lot of practice was to save the teams some expense, but I do think the IndyCar teams should get more track time; race days where you don't have an early morning warm-up, for example, mean there's not a lot of chance for fans to see the stars and cars.
I agree that increasing practice time would be more beneficial and it would make more economic sense than having more test days between races. You're at a relevant track, you have the full Safety Team, you're running against your competitors, and you have to be there anyway. It would save on the expense of a separate trip to Sebring or wherever. That way, the fans benefit by seeing their heroes on track more often. I will be talking to teams to get their input and evaluating this in the off-season.
• It appears that these cars are racy enough to go back to single-file restarts to keep some talent on the track. What are the chances?
DW: No, I don't see any reason not to have them now that the drivers have learned to respect each other, and double-file restarts add an element of excitement by opening up more chances to pass. They're here to stay.
• The current engine change rule continues to affect race outcomes. Rather than a negative-based system, why not go to a positive-based rule? When a financially secure team changes an engine, for whatever reason, they keep their qualifying position and pay a fixed amount into a fund. Teams with less secure financial backing could then petition for reimbursement from the fund for hard-parts purchases, whether engine-related or other, to bring them up to the level of the frontr-unners. If the maximum engine availability cap is reached, the fund payment would increase exponentially. This would have the effect of equalizing every teams access to success without directly impacting race outcomes.
• Can we end the unapproved engine change nightmare, please? What does it accomplish, exactly? No other series has a mileage limit for a single engine. My suggestion is to go with a year-long engine limit. And make the penalty for pulling an extra engine stiff. Make the limit five or six engines per car for the season. For the race that you use the extra engine, the car has to start from pit lane.
DW: First of all, why is the rule there? Because the engine manufacturers wanted it there and because the teams and the IndyCar Series wanted a penalty for unapproved engine changes. The teams pay quite a bit of money for their engine leases, and to keep within the budget of that lease fee, we have X amount of engines guaranteed by their manufacturers to complete Y amount of miles. If you didn't have that – again, let's emphasize that the manufacturers wanted this – they'd be able to change engines every time they wanted to. Well, we've been there, seen it, done it, back in the wild and decadent days of CART, when manufacturer costs would be high and so they charged the teams accordingly. It was cubic dollars, and to avoid going down that route again, a safeguard of some sort had to be imposed.
And unfortunately, this 10-place grid penalty was the only one that the series and manufacturers could agree on. I personally don't like it because although it does do what it's supposed to for the manufacturer, it's not right to punish the drivers and teams. If I'm a driver going for the championship and I lose 10 places on the grid at a track where it's difficult to pass, or then get wiped out in a Turn 1 pile-up while I'm midfield, I'm going to be angry. And it's not good for anyone to see titles or even races decided that way. So something needs to be done that restricts the manufacturers and penalizes them for changing engines too early, without affecting the driver.
So, this winter, we'll examine this once more and consult with everyone involved to try and find a better solution. Actually, if there's anyone out there with a better solution, let's hear it now!