Since the introduction of aerodynamics, race cars have become quicker. However, while this level of aerodynamic downforce has improved speed, it’s made it harder for drivers to pass one another. This is down to the aerodynamic wash that these cars create cutting through the air. And while Formula 1 is still struggling to come to a consensus in terms of aero rules, IndyCar has put itself at the forefront of making the sport more entertaining, with more passing ability, via a new aero package for the 2018 season.
The new aero package for both Honda and Chevrolet came about under the leadership of Jay Frye, IndyCar’s president of competition and operations, Bill Pappas, IndyCar’s VP of competition/race engineering, Tino Belli, IndyCar’s director of aerodynamics, and Dallara, the series’ chassis supplier to both Chevrolet and Honda. This effort was to save both engine manufacturers nearly $12 million on the development of their own respective aero kits and possibly entice other engine manufacturers to join IndyCar.
The Dallara-sourced DW-12 chassis remains largely untouched since its 2012 introduction. The chassis itself will go on until 2021 when Dallara introduces a brand new chassis the company is currently developing. However, there is some new elements, including a roll hoop that disappeared with the ChampCar series, the engine intake has been moved from atop the race car to on the car’s new sidepods, and there’s a host of new telematics that help spectators and race teams alike follow their favorite drivers. The biggest difference from last year, however, is the simpler aero.
Staying away from the Formula 1 formula, the new IndyCar aero kits have been highly revised and reduced to be simpler and produce less turbulence behind the cars. The front wing is smaller, as is the rear wing which sees a more drastic reduction in size and scope from the previous year. Additionally, the sidepods are larger. Downforce won’t be lost though, as the engineers switched the primary generation from wings, winglets, and dive planes, to ground effects and the IndyCar’s floor.
IndyCar’s engineers also state that the race car’s new aero kits will be safer than the previous seasons as there are fewer pieces to fly off and scatter when collisions and accidents occur. Furthermore, the new aero design allows for a windscreen to be added to the design if IndyCar, like Formula 1, decides to implement further cockpit safety technologies.
Both Chevrolet and Honda appear to be looking forward to the new aero designs. “Chevrolet’s IndyCar fans will continue to have a great deal to cheer about in 2018.
While we enjoyed tremendous success with the Chevrolet-specific aero kit, we are looking forward to the next chapter of competition as IndyCar introduces its universal aero kit,” said Mark Kent, director of Chevrolet motorsports competition.
“We’re excited to see the 2018 Indy car body kit on track. It looks great, with a return to a more traditional Indy car overall design, but with many forward-thinking elements and still incorporating the great advances in safety the series has made in recent years. It looks fast, as it should. We think the fans will love it, too,” furthered Art St. Cyr, president of Honda Performance Development.”
Testing these new aero kits begins this week at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for super speedway testing, and then heads to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for road course testing on August 1.
Photos courtesy of IndyCar.