Honda's 2017 IndyCar team lineup still not finalized

Honda Performance Development president Art St. Cyr has admitted the company has not yet tied down which IndyCar teams will be Honda-powered next year, thus fueling conjecture that Ganassi may partner with HPD.

Honda's 2017 IndyCar team lineup still not finalized
Honda Racing HPD signage
Art St. Cyr, Honda Performance Development President
Charlie Kimball, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport Honda
Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport Honda, Alexander Rossi, Herta - Andretti Autosport Honda, Michael Andretti
Race winner Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda
Race winner Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda
Polesitter Mikhail Aleshin, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
Start: Carlos Munoz, Andretti Autosport Honda leads
Polesitter Carlos Munoz, Andretti Autosport Honda
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Since the 2016 IndyCar season’s penultimate race, there has been speculation that Chip Ganassi Racing, after three years as a Chevrolet-powered team, would return to the HPD fold in 2017. And although Chip Ganassi himself strongly denied this, neither HPD nor Chevrolet have been able to give definitive confirmation.

Asked if there was a possibility that Ganassi’s team, whose drivers have won a remarkable 11 Indy car championships over the past 21 years, could return to HPD power, St. Cyr told Motorsport.com: “We are always looking at how we improve our overall competitiveness on the track.

"The fundamental goal is, ‘How do we win more races?’ And if one team or a different team is going to help us do that, then of course we will look at it.

“That doesn’t necessarily mean anything is imminent or even in the works. But we would be remiss to not look at potential opportunities to make our entire stable better.”

In 2016, Chevrolet and Honda supplied 11 cars each. Asked if a Ganassi switchover to HPD units would affect Honda’s ability to supply to any other team, St. Cyr responded: “That’s really a matter of our capacity and you can always expand or contract your capabilities for that. So depending on what our lineup looks like next year, we would staff accordingly.

“Remember, in the manufacturers’ engine supply agreement with IndyCar, the threshold is on the bottom rather than the top. We have to be able to supply at least 60 percent of the field.

“So it’s about advance notice and the ability to prepare for additional cars. The limiting factors for 2017 [the final year of manufacturer supplied aerokits] is about supplying both engines and aerokits. But as a hypothetical technical exercise it’s not very difficult. It’s about things we already do.” 

Cut-price deal possible

Although IndyCar this year increased the maximum price the manufacturers could charge teams for an engine lease – from $750,000 up to $1 million – the possibility remains that a manufacturer could entice potential teams by offering their units for a heavily reduced price.

Said St. Cyr: “Since the beginning, there have been price caps on both engines and aerokits, regarding how much we’re allowed to charge. So from that perspective, both manufacturers are subsidizing the engine supply already.

“So yes – hypothetically, if a manufacturer were to give their parts away, there is nothing IndyCar could do. The price is a maximum.”

Regarding when HPD would need to cement deals with its teams, he stated: “There’s no set deadline for any of that stuff. We go through this every off-season and that’s a natural thing when contracts expire.

"You always look and see who does what, who goes where, and a lot of it is based around drivers and teams and how we can work together as a cooperative group to strengthen our overall product on the track.

“But I want to emphasize the fact that all of the teams we already have are strong, they’re well-run and well-operated. How many races were there this year when the top 19 cars were covered by just one second? Our competitor was not as dominant as it appears.

Like we discussed before, the increments we need to improve by are so minuscule that there’s no reason to suppose we’re going into next season behind, even though there’s been a freeze on the aerokit development."

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