The IZOD IndyCar Series push-to-pass power boost system is to be modified for this weekend's Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, to introduce a five second delay between the press and the power kicking in.
“After that five seconds, when the driver gets to full throttle or already is at full throttle, the overtake will come on. That's to stop from using it as a push to defend,” said Trevor Knowles, IndyCar's director of engine development. "You can push the button before you get to the braking zone and when you get on the throttle it will be on overtake."
The overtake button - which adds 1.5 pounds of turboboost and 200RPM to the engine for up to 20 seconds or as long as the car is going full throttle - was first used in the series in 2009 and reintroduced to the series this year at Toronto after being on hiatus since the end of 2011 while the new specification engines and new DW12 Dallara chassis were bedding in.
Drivers will have up to 100 seconds of push-to-pass for the entire 85-lap race at the 2.258-mile, 13-turn permanent road course. Other than the five second delay, there is no recharge time between activations.
While the return of push-to-pass for road and street courses has been generally welcomed as adding overtaking action to street races, IndyCar officials are keen to ensure that it can't be used as a defensive measure - as Helio Castroneves did to good effect over the final 16 laps of the previous race at Edmonton on his way to a win over Takuma Sato.
The use of push-to-pass use was included on the live timing and scoring feed and even featured in the TV coverage of the Edmonton race, allowing pit crews to radio the information direct to their drivers in real time and virtually 'remote control' the deployment of the power boost.
"I just told them to tell me when he uses push-to-pass, and I'll defend it," admitted Castroneves after the race. "It worked out very good."
The five second delay is intended to stop that from happening.
“If you're the car in front trying to defend, the TV won't show when the competitor [behind] has pushed it," explained Knowles. "It will only show when the overtake is active. If [the driver in front] responds, he has five seconds before his overtake cuts in."
Knowles said that the series was looking at further modifications to the system for the future to improve racing action: "We didn't want to introduce too many things at one time," he said.