Another intricate process is ensuring the cars are awe-inspiring. With only 550hp for the ovals, it's important the cars are as fast as the current ones yet more demanding to drive. (We're shooting for up to 700hp on the road courses, so that will look after itself.) I think we'll find that with a larger underwing on the car creating most of the downforce, the wings will be used more as tuning devices. The 2012 car will be far more efficient than the current car, so it will take far less energy to propel it. Whether it's through engine, transmission, drivetrain or just the overall aerodynamic efficiency of the vehicle in its shape and design, the 2012 car will far outperform the current vehicle.
Engine-wise, we're still actively seeking additional manufacturer participation beyond Honda. The rules are pretty much set and we're continuing to do what we can to entice others. The window of opportunity for 2012 is closing pretty quickly. The vehicle design can accommodate either an I4 or V6 configuration.
This month, we're asking drivers of different heights to come to Italy and be fitted in Dallara's mock-up monocoque. A newly regulated 3in. padding is to be behind the driver's back and under their butt, so we need to look at comfort and pedal positions, sight-lines, headrests, steering wheel positions, how upright they have to sit compared to each other, whether there's enough leg room, what happens in an accident, how quickly they can get out (that's something we've really worked on) and so on.
I'm pleased we've had a lot of constructive input from drivers. Most of their comments are about how they fit in the current car, what they'd like to see different in the new car and what they'd like to see different in terms of technology. Drivers want all the gadgets but obviously safety is the number one priority, and if we're going to aim for slightly higher average lap speeds, safety will inevitably come up all the time. So from the drivers there has been a wide variety of ideas – and it's usually not just about them but also about things they'd like to see in the series. To be honest, they've had some of the best ideas.
When it comes to consulting the teams, there are a couple of different levels we need to attend to. We need to constantly communicate with the owners and I've really been trying to do that, keeping them up to date with our progress and vendor selections. However, regarding technical parameters we're really dealing with the team managers. I've gotten a lot of feedback, not only on costs but also on vendors – who do they like, who is the best – and discovered what things are different between each team. It's important, whether it's a piece of suspension or a brake component, to really understand the budgets these guys are working with.
To date, the feedback from the teams has been outstanding, and I appreciate everyone being pretty upfront in supplying information because without that, it would make it more difficult to achieve our aim of containing operating costs. There is quite a spread across the board when it comes to pricing, that's part of the IndyCar Series' job – defining what are reasonable costs and where we think they should be, what's going to benefit all entities long term.
One device that comes up for discussion when dealing with a new car is an on-board starter. There are huge benefits on road and street courses, because you don't want the safety team called out every time someone has a harmless spin and stall. However, starters won't be on the new cars.
Reliability of operation and weight are two key factors. OK, there are lighter systems but they're cost-prohibitive. So, as an alternative, we will work on an anti-stall mechanism because there are too many instances right now where a driver stalls the car after a spin. (We'll go to a two-pedal system with a hand-operated clutch on the steering wheel.) That should help cut down on 30-40 percent of the yellow flags.
The anti-stall mechanism will also be part of our plan to make the vehicle capable of standing starts. Whether the series chooses to utilize that ability is down to them. I'd love to see it on the roads and streets – I think it adds an element of excitement and this series boasts that it's the most versatile series in the world, so having to master standing starts as well as rolling starts on ovals works. But that's merely my opinion. There are a lot of fans who think we should have rolling starts because that's the American way. Still, my job is to make sure the car is capable of doing all it can should the need arise. From there, fans can voice their thoughts.
Well, that's my update for now. Thanks for reading.