Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver James Hinchcliffe has said that he is puzzled following a crash whilst testing the new-for-2018 Honda IndyCar at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. His incident has fuelled concerns regarding the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series cars as testing continues in preparation for the first race in March.
Hinchcliffe was testing the new car that is a dramatic change to the body stylings of the last few years when he hit the wall at turn three. Thankfully, Hinchcliffe was unhurt in the accident that took place at the same corner that saw him suffer life-threatening injuries back in 2015. However, Hinchcliffe stated after the crash that he was still uncertain as to what caused the crash.
“We were still getting up to speed on a run, not at full song yet, and hadn’t really been having any issues with the rear,” Hinchcliffe told Autosport. “Then in Turns 3-4, the rear just snapped on me.
“I don’t want to speculate but the team found something in the data that was a little questionable so we’ll look into that a bit more and hopefully have a real explanation later. Thankfully that was late in the day though, and up to that point, things had gone pretty well. But it’s less than ideal at a time when there’s not a lot of spare parts for the new kit floating around.”
This incident has further fuelled concerns as to how the car will handle on the high-speed ovals and how it will act running in traffic with others cars. The 2018 body kit designs for both Honda and Chevrolet reveal a large amount of downforce that the drivers usually had, meaning that the cars are much harder to drive and less stable at high speed.
“You can feel a pretty big difference,” Hinchcliffe said of the changes to the car for 2018. “You have to drive the car a lot more, that’s for sure. Between the aero changes and weight distribution changes, most of our set-ups have gone out the door, and we’re starting from scratch.”
The aim of the car designers at Dallara was to enable closer wheel-to-wheel running. Whilst the Italian company is confident of having achieved that goal, many drivers who have yet to have significant running in the 2018 cars remain concerned as to what they should expect.
Reigning IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden commented recently that his small amount of running in the 2018 Chevrolet means he doesn’t have a great understanding of what the 2018 cars will bring:
“I don’t have a great read on it yet,” Newgarden said, “I’ve been in the car two days now, I got a day at Sebring where I’ve not followed IndyCars and I did a day at Texas where I followed a car for five laps. It’s just not a good indication of what the car is going to do behind 20 or so cars.”
Testing will continue throughout the pre-season in the run up the season-opening race of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series. The year will begin on March 11 with the Grand Prix of St Petersburg. The second round of the season will be the first oval race of the year at Phoenix International Raceway.