19 January 2012
Drivers get to grips with DW12 at Sebring
"The DW12 Chevy is fun to drive,” echoed Marco Andretti. "We were able to check off a lot of boxes and got a lot of answers both good and bad."
"It's a different animal, the turbo makes a big difference when you're driving," contributed EJ Viso, saying that the teams still had a huge amount to do to optimise the performance. "I think it's the same for everybody ... The drivers also need more seat time, too."
For Helio Castroneves, the biggest challenge could well be trying to remember which foot to brake with: after an entire racing career with right-foot braking, he's having to get used to using his left foot this year in the DW12.
"It will take some time to adapt, but that's why we're out here testing,"he said. "Actually, it's kind of fun - like go-karts. The only [left-foot braking] car I drove was in a F1 test in 2002."
The new DW12 chassis also reduces the number of foot pedals from three to two, with the moving of the clutch to the paddle shift system in the steering wheel; and the car also features new carbon brakes for the drivers to get used to.
"Getting a handle on the carbon brakes is definitely a task," admitted JR Hildebrand. “In the end, the braking performance will be better."
"The brakes are awesome!” enthused Graham Rahal. "They have a serious amount of grip - by far the best braking system I've had on an IndyCar!
"The car also has a ton of downforce, that's something you also feel right away," Rahal continued, after an "awesome" day of testing. "It's nice to drive and for once I fit comfortably and safely!"
After recent concerns about the handling of the DW12 through banked oval corners, the drivers seemed much happier with how the car performed on road courses.
“With the old car, you had chronic understeer everywhere you went,” explained Hildebrand. "With this car, the weight distribution almost helps the car turn through the corner a lot better," adding that he was also happy with the way that Chevrolet had all-but eliminated the lag in how the turbo power is fed in out of the turns. “It kicks in more heavily out of the corner, all at once."
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