Team Penske president Tim Cindric says that IndyCar needs to open up more ‘boxes’ for development on the car, observing that the room for teams to improve by engineering talent is more reduced than ever before.
Following the series’ switch back to a spec aerokit for 2018, IndyCar has not yet defined which areas of development will be open to individual team modification in 2019 and ’20. But Cindric is calling for the rules to allow greater engineering freedom, while also keeping costs in check.
“If IndyCar wants to be perceived as the highest form of racing in this country, it should reward good performances and there should be ways you can differentiate yourself,” he told Motorsport.com. “If you have your destiny in your own hands, that’s a form of motorsport we want to be involved in.
“We like to see competitive parity and everyone has the tools to win but where there are ways to differentiate yourself. That’s what makes it interesting for everyone.
“I think there does need to be a certain amount of control on costs – I’m not an advocate of just opening things up. But when we initially got into the IRL in 2001, that was at a time of IRL’s ultimate cost containment, but there were more ways that we could differentiate ourselves
“They weren’t hugely expensive and if you did get it right, you’d have a one- or two-race advantage and then everyone else had the ability to catch back up. We’re not talking wings or sidepods. I mean different tire ramps, different mirrors, different wing endplates.
“We don’t have any of those areas open to us any more. If you want a spec car, go and compete in the lower forms of motorsport – that’s what they’re for.”
There have been arguments that ‘under the skin’ items such as shock/damper programs should be made spec if they’re not things that can’t be appreciated by the fan in the grandstand.
Cindric responded: “There have to be ways of differentiation or you won’t see passing, and your guy in the grandstand won’t appreciate that, either!
“We’ve never had a spec damper and to suddenly go to that would actually incur a higher cost. Every rule change costs money and anyway, the big teams are going to be successful whether they have spec dampers or not, and the good drivers are going to continue to differentiate themselves.
“The more spec you make the cars, the more you’ll have to invest in the right driver. I think some of those discussions are short sighted and they’re for the lower forms of motorsport.”
Cindric admitted he was pleased to see the end of the 2015-’17 manufacturer aerokits which although very different from each other, again didn’t allow the teams to come up with their own engineering improvements.
“The way that era was initially presented, was that all the Chevy teams would start out the same, all the Honda teams would start out the same, but there’d be areas in which the teams could differentiate themselves,” he said. “But the idea of the aerokit era in terms of how it was presented and then what actually transpired was very different. It became just a manufacturers’ differentiation and the teams themselves were handcuffed. So it was a lot less interesting than how it was sold to us.
“Like I said, we need to keep a lid on costs to keep the number of participants to what we have today but I think [IndyCar] should be calculating on [opening] one area at a time going forward, rather than continue to reduce it to a spec series. If we’re going to be perceived as the premier series in the country, spec racing isn’t where we need to be.”