Andretti: F1 missed chance to adopt "pure" IndyCar design

Formula 1 missed out on IndyCar’s “pure-looking” single-seater when it introduced the 2017 cars that made overtaking more difficult, says Mario Andretti.

Andretti: F1 missed chance to adopt "pure" IndyCar design
Pietro Fittipaldi, Dale Coyne Racing
Mario Andretti
Carlos Sainz Jr., Renault Sport F1 Team R.S. 18
Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet
Sébastien Bourdais, Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan Honda
Romain Grosjean, Haas F1 Team VF-18
Mario Andretti in a Williams F1 car
Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes-AMG F1 W09 EQ Power+ and Esteban Ocon, Force India VJM11 battle
Jordan King, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Mario Andretti
Rene Binder, Juncos Racing Chevrolet

IndyCar switched to a universal aerokit in 2018 and banished the manufacturer aerokits, dramatically reducing the level of downforce on offer. 

The decision was made in order to lower costs and improve racing. Four new teams joined for 2018 and the season-opener at St. Petersburg produced a record number of overtakes. 

F1 meanwhile radically overhauled the rules package for the 2017 season with more aggressive and wider cars that targeted significantly faster laptimes, but at the expense of reducing overtaking.

Last weekend's Australian Grand Prix was particularly devoid of overtakes, with only five passes made after the first lap, leading to Max Verstappen branding the race "completely worthless".

Andretti told Motorsport.com that F1’s approach caused it to miss out on the “great job” IndyCar did with its 2018 changes.

“I think the [IndyCar] series, the management have done a great job in tweaking things,” he said.

“They’re doing the right thing with the aerodynamics of the cars and coming back to a more of a pure-looking single-seater, open-wheel car which I think was something all of the open-wheel aficionados wanted to see. 

“Unfortunately, last year’s cars started looking more like a sports prototype car with all the winglets and all the bullshit that was hanging over, but what they’ve done, I think is personally [what] Formula 1 missed [out] on. 

“They reduced the downforce of the car which is an element, they still gave them good downforce with the ground effect because it does not create turbulence. But with the smaller wings, you can stay near the guy’s gearbox and you can have a competitive overtake. 

“I think personally that’s where F1 missed it, they gave them more mechanical grip with wider tyres that gave them bigger weights which created more turbulence. 

“And by doing bigger wings, they shorten the braking points even further which eliminates almost the chance of overtaking. 

“Yeah you have DRS and all that, which you really need more than ever now, but at the same time even with the DRS, you’ve got to be able to suck up to somebody’s gearbox coming off a corner and you cannot use DRS until you’re on the straightaway.”

IndyCar shouldn't end season in September

While Andretti praised IndyCar’s direction, he criticised the decision to end the season earlier in the year than the NASCAR Cup Series and F1.

“The only negative that I see in the series is that they end the season too early,” he said. 

“There’s no reason why. They [IndyCar] talk about TV competition and all that, to me, that’s all bull. You need to stay on [TV] because IndyCar is at the same time competing for time with F1, NASCAR.

“IndyCar disappears a week into September and it’s a disservice to the drivers more than anything. 

“In my opinion, that’s one thing that I don’t agree with management and I will never agree with, so I wish they would be able to fix that, but I think they’ve got a lot going for them.”

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