INDYCAR has announced to freeze the aero kit developent for the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season. Chevrolet and Honda will run their current aero kit specifications next season while a universal aero kit is planned for the 2018 season.
The aero kit freeze comes two seasons after the manufacturers were allowed to develop the aerodynamics. While the new aero kits improved lap times and created visual differences between the two manufacturers’ cars, the aero kit development has been criticized for hurting on-track competition, creating disparity, and being expensive.
After 2015, Honda was permitted to make additional changes in its road course and short oval aero kit to catch Chevrolet, yet still the best Honda driver in the 2016 standings is Graham Rahal only in seventh place. Meanwhile, some team owners have expressed their criticism about the price of the aero kits, saying the kits don’t enhance the competition enough to justify the cost. Supplying aero kits besides engines has also made it more difficult for a new manufacturer to join the Verizon IndyCar Series.
Jay Frye, INDYCAR president of competition and operations, commented on the announcement of the freeze: “Today’s announcement follows an extended dialogue with Chevrolet, Honda, our teams and stakeholders – this decision focused on what is best for the future of the Verizon IndyCar Series.”
“This is an integral component to INDYCAR’s long-term plan to continue to produce the highest quality of on-track competition while also positioning ourselves to add additional engine manufacturers.”
For 2018, INDYCAR is planning a new, universal aero kit. On the 2018 car, Frye said: “The goal of the universal car is to be great-looking, less aero dependent, have more potential for mechanical grip/downforce and to incorporate all the latest safety enhancements”
While the aerodynamically advanced DW12 cars of the past two seasons have been faster than the previous seasons’ spec-bodied DW12, the increased aerodynamic sensitivity has made following another car more difficult. A less aero dependent car doesn’t have that problem and should make the racing even better.
As for the safety enhancements Frye mentioned, INDYCAR has been exploring options to improve cockpit safety. While the halo device tested in Formula One would limit visibility on banked ovals, a deflector may be introduced in the Verizon IndyCar Series in the upcoming years to protect drivers’ head from getting hit by debris.