2015 Verizon IndyCar Series preview: Similar but slightly different


It is almost time for the Verizon IndyCar Series to get under way again at St Petersburg after about a six month off-season, and by god have the teams and manufacturers been busy. New drivers, new sponsors and new cars (kind of) give 2015 quite a bit of spice.

The cars

The 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series will be the most differently similar since the introduction of the DW12 with the new Honda and Chevrolet aero kits providing the spec series a bit of variety – good or bad.

The two engine suppliers have been working hard in the wind tunnels for this season, and before you notice the new drivers and the new liveries, you will notice the new aero which immediately brings to mind: “Oh my god did a carbon fibre factory explode?”

However, it really is a good thing on the whole – it levels the playing field with teams having to throw away their old set-up guides and start from square one on getting the package to work with their drivers.

One man who is getting to grips is series front runner Scott Dixon, he said at Barber: “It’s been a significant change in drivability or how to attack the car with all the downforce. We’re working with balance issues, weight distributions and just trying to feel out some of the changes with the aero kit and the loads changing significantly with the corner speeds.”

The only kit that have been so far is the short oval/street & road package which is noticeably higher in downforce than Dallara’s initial offering, expect lap times to be quicker as drivers feel the force through the corners.

With the super-speedway efforts for Honda and Chevy not being revealed until the Indy 500, expect IndyCar teams up and down the grid try and influence the direction the manufacturers take.

The teams & drivers

Starting on the teams front, there has only been one significant change on the IndyCar paddock and that is the loss of two teams.

But, before despairing it is simply the fact that Ed Carpenter Racing and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing are no more, they have become one single team entitled Carpenter Fisher Hartman Racing. Using Chevy power, Carpenter will share one drive with Luca Filippi with the former just doing the ovals and the second car will feature Josef Newgarden for a full season.

One of the big moves over the off-season was Jack Hawksworth moving to A.J Foyt Racing to join Takuma Sato at the team which has been only a single entry for a while now.

Replacing Hawksworth at Bryan Herta Autosport is last season’s Indy Lights champion Gabby Chaves, who will be hoping to carry on the Briton’s good work from last year in his rookie season.

Also seeing a number of additional entries is Andretti Autosport, Simona De Silvestro will be in the fourth car for St Petersburg at the moment with Justin Wilson taking over the drive for the Indy GP and the Indy 500.

One man who seems to be bucking a trend of young talent deserting Formula One and going elsewhere is former GP2 regular Stefano Coletti who will be lining up alongside Sebastien Bourdais at KV Racing.

Conclusion

It is clear that this is one of the biggest changes to an IndyCar season since the introduction of the new machinery, a new circuit – NOLA Motorsports Park – will play host to a new team and new drivers.

What is clear is that everyone goes into the season on level pegging, these next five months are going to be absolutely excellent.