While a number of IZOD IndyCar Series drivers have switched to left-foot braking in recent years, Dario Franchitti has continued to employ the traditional right-foot braking technique – and the four-time series champion consequently found himself at a disadvantage in this year's new Dallara DW12 chassis.
The new car features a hand clutch and two pedals – one each for the throttle and brake – located on either side of the steering column. That setup requires left-foot braking, which Franchitti reckoned to be unreasonable to drivers such as himself who have not adopted the technique. IndyCar accommodated his view by approving use of a mechanical kit developed by Dallara that shifts the brake pedal to the right. No modifications were made to the chassis.
"It's important to me that we got that done,” Franchitti, who tested the revised pedal configuration for the first time last week during the Open Test at Sebring last week, told IndyCar.com. “It makes a big difference driving the car. It will help me get just that last little bit and extract the maximum out of the car.”
Other veterans, such as Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan, who also haven't left-foot braked since early in their careers, have adapted to being left-foot brakers for the new car, as Castroneves explained in his RACER column last month, but Franchitti insisted that forcing drivers who have perfected their technique over years to change for the sake of car design was not appropriate.
“A lot of other guys have made that transition over the years, but for performance purposes I felt the way I did it suited my style and it worked well for me,” Franchitti said. “You can change it, but I felt I would have been at 95 percent. I think it would have taken a few more tests to get to where I was as a right-foot braker.
“For me and the team, it was easier [to request the modification kit]. It also gives us some advantages as a right-foot braker that I wasn't ready to give up.”