Leading IZOD IndyCar Series drivers have called for a rethink of the new double-file restart rules after a string of early crashes in the season opener in St. Petersburg.
The first race of the new system saw a massive first-corner crash (click here for video) involving Helio Castroneves, Marco Andretti, Mike Conway, Scott Dixon and Ryan Briscoe, and then further tangles after the ensuing restarts led to four caution periods in the first 15 laps.
Polesitter and second-place finisher Will Power reckoned IndyCar was not the right series to try double-file restarts in – and expects the trouble to continue.
"The problem is, they have so many cars bunched in such a tight space," he said. "There's zero room for error, and we can't bump like NASCAR.
"I think this is just going to continue every race. There's going to be people getting knocked out every single restart. I think that's what it's going to be. Maybe they should do it in single file but start late. Then you would see more passing. But as it is, there's no passing. It's just everyone in the road, and if you are going to get by someone, someone is going to get knocked out. That's what happens."
Tony Kanaan admitted that he had benefited from the format as he came through to finish third on his debut for KV, but said he was still not a fan of the concept and reckons St. Petersburg was actually one of the easier tracks for side-by-side restarting.
"This is a place where you have a lot of room," he said. "Go to a tighter place, like Long Beach, and Toronto; think about it. We need to make the show good. And I don't think it's good for the show to have the first 15 laps under the yellow. It's crazy.
"So I'm not going to say yes or no, but we definitely need to reconsider. Personally, I agree with Will. I don't like it, and I think it's taking a lot of people out. If you're lucky, you make it, and if you're not, then you're done."
Race winner Dario Franchitti felt that the leading drivers had coped well with the system, but that some midfielders needed to exercise more restraint.
"You had some decent battles into Turn 1," he said. "So, for the front row guys, I don't think it was such a problem. I think you have to ask the guys farther back in the pack what it was like and what the problem was, because there was obviously a problem.
"Is the problem the double-file restart? Is it the late acceleration? Or, is it just people not paying attention? Not that they are not paying attention, but not respecting each other, just being crazy and going for gaps that aren't there. Which one is it? We have to figure that out, and then we can change it."
He added: "I just think, as drivers, we have to take some of the blame there for what happened."
The reigning champion underlined that the change to the restarts had been prompted by calls from the team owners.
"The team owners, they wield a pretty big stick, and they said they wanted it," said Franchitti. "So there's probably a few of them sitting there scratching their heads now looking at bills for loads and loads of carbon fiber and going, 'Why didn't I ever think of that?'"
Still, he believes the system can succeed with some tweaking.
"There's going to be some combination of what we are trying to do that can work," he stressed.
Simona de Silvestro progressed from 17th to seventh in the early chaos and then jumped from seventh to second in a single move at one of the restarts. Having gone on to finish a breakthrough fourth, the HVM driver said she was a fan of the rule.
"I thought the double-file restarts were pretty fun because it actually gave us a chance to make positions," she said. "Last year, we would start single file every time, it would be hard. You would be just following the leader. I think it [the restarts] made it exciting and I really enjoyed it."
Newman/Haas' Oriol Servia suggested that the problem was not the restart system but the quirks of the St. Petersburg track.
"The two-wide restarts were not a problem for me," he said. "It's just that the two-wide restarts at this track are tricky because the inside line here is so dirty because this is an airport, there is paint, there is oil and that is why we had so many problems. It won't be the case at Barber."