Team Penske’s Will Power showed the capabilities of the new aero package as he beat last year’s pole position time in the first practice session of the Verizon IndyCar Series’ first round at St Petersburg.
Setting a time of 1:01.471, he beat Takuma Sato’s 2014 pole time by more than four tenths. But then, so did another four drivers including Penske team mates Helio Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya.
Those fast times, Sebastien Bourdais was the last under Sato’s 2014 time with a 1:01.844, were set on the hard compound tires – expect even faster times when the field can use the soft tyres in qualifying today.
With one session completely rained out – to be rearranged for before qualifying – drivers could only get brief impressions on how the field stacked up with their new aero.
“It was pretty straightforward for us. I think it’s just understanding last year’s mechanical balance of the car with the new aero stuff and just going through basic changes to see what they do,” said Power, who won the race last year and has earned the St. Petersburg pole four years in a row.
“The kits produce massive downforce, low drag and the cars are absolutely glued to the track. Obviously, as we go along in the year we are going to learn more and more about what we need to push for wins.”
The times all mentioned above were earned by those using Chevrolet power, the first of the Honda powered teams was Jack Hawksworth in the A.J Foyt Racing machine who set a 1:01.871.
2012 IndyCar champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, another of the Honda powered entrants, said: “Racing, first of all, is all about innovation and development and that’s what we have with the aero kits. The engine manufacturers have been tasked to put on as much downforce as efficiently as possible, and what you see is a complete transformation of this Indy car where Chevy has its own look and brand and Honda has its own look and brand and stamp on the car.
“The performance is up, track records will be broken this year, and they look like you need to wear protective gloves around them, so they look awesome. They look like they should, which is incredibly fast and somewhat scary.”