Art St. Cyr, Honda Performance Development president, has echoed the sentiments of James Hinchcliffe in expressing worries over car stability when running domed skids.
Following Motorsport.com’s interview with Chevrolet’s director of motorsports Mark Kent, St. Cyr has moved to clarify the position of Honda and HPD over the increasingly contentious matter of domed skids.
IndyCar's plan was set to be resolved today, following Marco Andretti's test with the domed skid.
But beforehand, St. Cyr told Motorsport.com: “It is true that after last year’s debacle at the 500, we were looking at how to make the cars safer. And I believe it was our partners [Wirth Research] who brought up the idea of the domed skid.
“It had been a successful solution in sportscars and it had been done before in IndyCar. It depends on who you ask if it was successful on the last generation of IndyCar.
“So yes, Honda did support the idea – we did CFD data and we did windtunnel data. But what we didn’t do was a physical test, and when we did do a test with the setup that we had, it created an instability in the car.”
Looking for prevention or cure?
St. Cyr said that while the principle of the domed skids was good, he preferred to be guided by the evaluations of “two of our most experienced and respected drivers.”
“When the car spins, the domed skid produces more downforce,” he said, “but what’s safer? That or to have a car that’s less likely to spin?
“So although people say, ‘Honda were for this,’ yeah we were – based on data and simulations. But after putting actual butts in actual driving seats, there are major concerns. Both Ryan [Hunter-Reay] and Hinch [James Hinchcliffe] say the ride-height and consequent instability give you the feeling that the car’s sitting on top of the track instead of being forced onto it with downforce.
“We’re looking at this solely from a stability perspective. There were cars that had stability issues last year, and we don’t want to introduce something that can cause the same problems.
“We are all for safety, and like I say, yes, the CFD and wind tunnel data show these domed skids work in the way they are supposed to. But we’ve done race simulations that show side effects that cause us to hesitate.”
St. Cyr also made the point that technical wrangling should not be allowed to overshadow the race.
He said, “I want to make the 100th Indy 500 the show it’s supposed to be. I don’t want the month of May to be dominated by talking about domed skids!”