Bolder, safer and even more thrilling were the watchwords for the launch of IndyCar’s new standardised aerobat for 2018. Featuring a new, sleeker bodykit harking back to IndyCar designs of the 1990s, Honda and Chevrolet liveried version debut at Indianapolis Motor Speedway today.
IndyCar 2018 – a year in the making
The challenge to outfit the current Dallara IR-12 chassis with a new aerodynamic kit began more than a year ago. Design support came from Dallara and Chris Beatty, a UK-based concept design and 3D animation consultant. Throughout the process, competitors contributed to the design progress.
The new car’s work begins in earnest on Tuesday with on-track testing at the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway 2.5-mile oval. IndyCar veterans Juan Pablo Montoya and Oriol Servia will test cars from Chevrolet and Honda respectively.
Bolder design for IndyCar
A lower engine cover and lower short oval/road course rear wing endplates provide a long, lean look. Gone are the rear wheel guards, which made the car appear bulky. The wings are lower, smaller and more aesthetically pleasing.
The LED display system on each car – which currently shows position in the running order, the time of a pit stop and when push-to-pass is engaged – is more sophisticated, expanding opportunities for providing fans with content.
Enhancing safety for IndyCar drivers
Side impact protection has been significantly improved in a variety of ways, including the sidepod leading edge and induct duct joined with two bulkheads to create a proper crushable structure ahead of the radiator. The unitary construction is designed to absorb loads from all directions, and the structure is 8 to 10 inches wider at the driver’s hips.
The top of the sidepod has been designed to exceed FIA side impact tests. The inlet duct, sidepod side and bottom have been constructed in hybrid carbon/dyneema fibers for improved penetration protection. Oil and water radiators have been moved forward, adding cushioning on the driver’s side.
Improving the quality of racing
Drivers have been asking for the car to generate more downforce from underneath the car instead of on top using the wings. Now, 66 percent of the generated downforce will be at the bottom of the car in road course/short oval configuration, an increase of 19 percent.
Reducing the dependency on topside downforce has eliminated the need for many of the extra aero kit pieces, which added to the turbulent air an Indy car leaves in its wake. At a recent short oval test where some of the new kit’s components were affixed to a current car, the following distance for a trailing car was cut in half, improving maneuverability. If it’s easier to follow, it should be easier to pass, creating an opportunity for tighter, more exciting racing.