The Verizon IndyCar Series has confirmed that it is dropping the system of double-file restarts for street and courses, with effect from this weekend's season opener at St Petersburg.
Double file restarts had been blamed for early crashes in races during the year, by forcing the field to go two-wide on courses that simply didn't have the room through their first corners to accommodate that approach.
"Double-file starts are exciting to watch but when we start banging into each other, we look like idiots," noted IndyCar's president of competition and operations, Derrick Walker. "Rather than have one weekend where we're doing them or and one where we are not doing them, we're just going to be consistent and do one thing."
Double-file restarts will continue to take place on all oval races, with the exception of the Indianapolis 500.
Walker also unveiled a new approach to stewarding during the race, which will now be undertaken by a three-person line-up rather than loading all the responsibility onto the race director, Beaux Barfield.
In future, stewarding decisions will be taken by race director in conjunction with a driver steward and official or independent steward, who will adjudicate competitor on-track sporting infractions when warranted. Any of the stewards may call for a review where it is suspected that a driver may have violated a sporting rule or regulation.
Where an infraction is identified, a senior steward - named to the position prior to the race by Walker - will determine whether a penalty is appropriate and what severity of penalty to apply in accordance with the IndyCar rulebook dependant on whether the violation is seen as accidental or deliberate and whether it affects another competitor's race result.
"As for the actual officiating, last year we had one person, who would have an on-or-off again love affair with the media. Beaux was the story for the weekend. He got a lot of calls that were blamed on him, and some were and some weren't. What we had to do was get more people involved in the process," explained Walker.
For St Petersburg, the three-man stewarding panel will consist of Barfield along with IndyCar vice president of competition Brian Barnhart along with Johnny Unser, Mazda Road to Indy driver coach. Barfield will be this week's senior steward.
"I had the really fortunate ability when I joined IndyCar to visit a lot of race organizations and different events and they were kind of enough for me to look at what they did and how they did," said Walker. "Everybody has the same problem. You don't have enough eyes and just making the right calls is a risk factor," adding that the F1 stewarding system for Grand Prix races was the closest model to that being introduced by IndyCar this weekend.
"At the end, I took the best of the best and some of it could apply to what we do and some didn't. We're moving forward, cautiously, with a new system that really starts with equipment. We spent a considerable amount of money on screens and adding camera positions and a replay systems that will let us zoom in in details. It's up and running here and it runs fantastic."
In other changes, the series has now added a pit lane exit light, so that if a car is leaving pit lane when another car on the racetrack is approaching the pit lane exit, the four blue lights on the tower will flash to warn the driver leaving the pit lane.
The series also modified its rulebook to confirm that any driver entering pit lane when the pits are officially closed may still avoid penalty by continuing through without stopping.