2 December 2014
IndyCar: Series drops standing starts in 2015
The new rulebook for the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series has dropped standings starts, but introduces double points for the season finale at Sonoma Raceway.
There will be no standing starts in the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series, it was revealed on Tuesday with the publication of the official rules and regulations for next year's championship.
Standing starts have been a point of contention between the series management and the teams and drivers, especially after a major accident at the beginning of the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis road course race in May when Sebastian Saavedra stalled and was hit by the fast-moving cars of Carlos Munoz and Mikhail Aleshin.
Fortunately none of the drivers involved suffered any major injuries from the incident. It was later revealed that Indianapolis mayor Greg Ballard - who was waving the green flag to start the event - suffered some minor injuries from flying debris from the crash.
"I think IndyCar has had two good standing starts since they started last year," owner-driver Ed Carpenter said at the time. "Haven't been a fan."
With the new rules for 2015 it appears that the IndyCar Series management has come to the same view at least for the time being and now all races will get underway with rolling starts, with IndyCar's president of competition and operations Derrick Walker explaining the practical reasons behind the decision.
“Most of the tracks we run on, few meet the space criteria for our cars, which are bigger than most formula cars," he said. "There is some development needed with the launch. I wouldn't say it's out of the picture for the future. We know the fans enjoy it, and we love it, too."
Also announced was a change to the way the points will be allocated next season, with double points being retained for the Indianapolis 500 and introduced for the season finale at Sonoma Raceway at the end of August.
This year there were also double points for the other two 500-mile oval races held at Pocono and Auto Club Speedway, which along with the Indy 500 comprise the 'Tripe Crown' competition. Part of the reason for the introduction of double points for the three oval races was in part in recognition to the mileage they represented, but mainly to balance up the overall importance of oval races in the championship with the more numerous street and road course events.
"We look at the new calendar and analyse how many cars would be in contention for the championship after certain events, and the best trend with multiple cars racing for the championship was weighting it for the final race and the Indy 500, which is a special race deserving of double points," Walker explained..
The winner of the Indy 500 and the season finale will now receive 100 points, the runner-up 80 points and the third-place finisher netting 70 points. The scale decreases to just ten points for the 25th-place finisher and lower, while bonus points will once again be awarded for leading the most race laps (two points) and leading at least one lap (one point).
Pole winners will also receive an extra point, with the exception of the Indy 500 where there are considerably more championship points on offer in the unique two-stage qualification process used for the historic event.
Engine manufacturer championship points have also been revised to further reward reliability and competitiveness of the Chevrolet and Honda 2.2-litre, twin-turbocharged V6 engines. The top three finishing positions by each manufacturer will now score points, where previously points were scored by the overall top five.
"The primary reason for the adjustments to the manufacturer points championship, following input and discussions with Chevrolet and Honda, is the shift in terms of number of teams and drivers with each manufacturer," Walker explained. "We don't want the manufacturer championship to be a contest that is solely about whether you can dominate the grid with the number of cars in your line-up. It is about engines, and we measure their performance in a few different ways."
Teams will still be allowed four fresh engines for the year, with a total allotment of 10,000 miles. Twenty points will be deducted from a manufacturer's total for an engine failing to complete its life cycle or from an engine undergoing a non-minor repair that requires a component change. An engine that meets the 2,500-mile threshold will earn the manufacturer ten points while the manufacturer that nets pole position and leads most laps in a race will earn points in line with those on offer in the drivers' championship.
The majority of the rulebook is unchanged, with Walker confirming that consistency was the aim.
"The best thing the sanctioning body can provide competitors, manufacturers and fans is a stable, consistent rulebook, so most of the changes for 2015 are clarifying and tidying up definitions," he said "The rulebook is continuously evolving and we always look to refine it to make the product better."
Some of the other fine-tuning of the rules comes in the area of testing, with teams now obliged to invest four of their 14-days of available non-race weekend track days at 'promoter days' which will be added to the open tests previously available to all teams.
There will be pre-season testing at Barber Motorsports Park on March 16-17 to prepare for the introduction of Chevrolet and Honda street/road course aero kits, and at the new NOLA Motorsports Park on April 10. There will be further promoter days at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 3, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on May 7 and at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on July 31.
"We see these days, working with the promoters, as a way fans can see the stars and cars in ways that aren't available during the race weekend," said Walker said.
"It will be a less formal day for the teams and drivers with long on-track sessions," he added. "Also, when you look at the schedule, there aren't too many days that teams can test with the arrival of aero kits. We picked a nominal amount of dates to start to create value and cost-savings for teams."
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