The IZOD Indy Car Series’ never-ending quest to improve its on-track product has led the series to impose a five-second delay system to its push-to-pass mechanism, in a change designed to keep drivers from using the button to avoid being passed.
The system has been modified so a driver can push the button before entering a low-speed area, and the next time that the driver hits the throttle, the push-to-pass will already be engaged.
“It’s going to take away the ability of the leading car to defend. If you think the guy is close enough to you, you have to be on it,” said Dario Franchitti. “It’s one of those things that where you are going to be pissed if you get passed by someone using it, but you’ll like it if it helps you.”
The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course has two longer straightaways where the P-T-P may come into play, and on a track where passing opportunities are few and far between in the bigger Indy Cars, guys won’t be willing to sit back and give positions away.
What the new delay system will do is to make the drivers plan their passing movement – and their defensive counterstrikes – well ahead of the time that they actually want to use them. Some drivers are going to be relying on their spotters to give them information on a charging competitor that may be on the button, but Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon will rely on a tried and true method of seeing what is behind him.
“You’re going to see them in your rear-view mirror before they get to you,” Dixon explained. “They won’t be closing on you by 50 mph, it will be much slower than that. I think that if you notice them gaining on you like they hit the button, you will have time to hit yours and still defend your spot even with the delay.”
Dixon’s view seems to be shared by most of the paddock, as the predominant feeling is that a driver will still need to be judicious with their pushes as they would be in any race, and that the delay system was a promising idea that won’t go far enough to make a difference.
“I think that guys are still going to be able to defend because you will know if a guy is close enough to possibly catch you out if he uses it,” said one an Indy Car team manager. “It makes sense and I like that they are thinking, but I don’t think it solves the problem.”