This week has seen the launch of IndyCar’s all new aerokit for 2018. With this, and some young stars showcasing their talent as the old guard prepare to depart, the series has a very bright future ahead of it
On Monday, IndyCar unveiled the new 2018 car that would take over from the current Dallara DW12. Sleeker, faster and safer, the car heralded a new era for the series by taking inspiration from the past. Gone are the ungainly rear bumpers, the manufacturer aerokits and the general bulky look of the car and in has come a sleek rocket ship ready to take on the Brickyard and the other race circuits on the series calendar. What was revealed on Monday was the oval spec car, the road course version is to come out at a later date. But what has already been seen is a much needed makeover to the current IndyCar.
Whilst the DW12 is not exactly a bad looking car, the series recognised something sleeker and more racy looking was needed. Inspiration has clearly been taken from the machines of the 1990’s, the thin and missile style look harking back to the days when Nigel Mansell and Emerson Fittipaldi were still competing, and when Dario Franchitti was making his debut in the series. It looks to have paid off with the reaction on social media to the launch being overwhelmingly positive to the new car. The cars are set to be tested by Oriol Servia and Juan-Pablo Montoya, Montoya in the Chevrolet machine provided by Penske and the Honda car provided by Schmidt Peterson driven by Servia.
“Although the design looked good on paper it looks even better in person. We couldn’t be more excited to get this car on the track.”
Jay Frye, president, INDYCAR competition and operations
The cars are not the only thing that will give IndyCar fans optimism for the future. Fans know that soon, the old guard will make their exit. Tony Kanaan and Helio Castroneves perhaps being the prime examples of drivers who are much closer to the end of their careers than the start, Castroneves potentially even heading to the new Penske sportscar program in 2018. But in their place will be several new stars who have already shown that they are potential champions. Two of the most prominent are perhaps Josef Newgarden and Alexander Rossi and both have been brilliant in 2017, despite very mixed results.
Newgarden showed great speed when driving for Ed Carpenter/Fisher Hartman Racing the last few years, winning three races with the team before moving to Penske for this season. Since that move, he has won two races in Barber and Toronto and established himself as a true title contender for the first time in his career.
He has been one of the hottest properties on the grid for years and is finally at a team that can really allow him to shine, and he is doing so. Newgarden is still improving and bedding into the Penske environment at every race, and could be very hard to beat if he gets into the zone. His teammates, and the other drivers, had better watch out.
Rossi’s season has been more difficult. He shocked the paddock with his victory in last year’s Indy 500, in a year where he had to learn the IndyCar way. The pace wasn’t always there, although he did impress in Pocono and lost a potential victory there with a pitlane collision between himself and Castroneves. 2017 has seen Rossi show immense speed in qualifying in the races. He has been in the top 5 multiple times, and has put in impressive drives from lower positions to vault back into the points, most impressively at Barber. But factors have gone against him when he has qualified well. He was running second at Long Beach and had the pace to win before his car let him down as the race neared its end. He qualified third at the Indy 500 and with probably the strongest car of the whole grid, before a fueling issue sent him to the back, although his recovery to seventh highlighted just how good his car had been.
“It’s important that the young guys are getting results. That is what’s going to keep the sport growing and moving forward like it has been.”
He finally secured the elusive podium with second at Toronto and it was more than a just reward for the sheer effort he had put in. The speed he has shown has silenced the doubters that believed he purely lucked into his 2016 Indy 500 victory, and has a very bright future ahead of him. It would be heartbreaking if he doesn’t win a race in 2017, especially with two massive victories eluding him already. Because the pace he has shown and the improvements he has made from 2016 deserve that big breakthrough win.
Rossi and Newgarden aren’t alone. You have popular Canadian James Hinchcliffe, who came back strong after his life-threatening crash at Indianapolis in 2015 to win in Long Beach this year. Reigning champion Simon Pagenaud is one of the best drivers out there right now and Britons Ed Jones and Max Chilton are learning, developing and unlocking their speed as the races go on. It would be hard for IndyCar to improve on the ultra competitive 2017 season. But with young stars like Rossi and Newgarden making their mark, and the fantastic new car the grid will have next year, the series can look forward to what’s in store for it.