INDIANAPOLIS – Last week, both Oriol Servia and Juan Pablo Montoya tested the newly designed 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series concept for the first time ever at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The two test drivers raved about their experience saying the car is much better to drive and puts things back into the drivers’ hands.
Well, after the first road course configuration test at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the duo is still saying the same thing.
“It feels pretty good; it’s very different than the current aero kit,” said Montoya, the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner and 1999 Indy car champion. “The (new) car is a little more forgiving, but the level of downforce is a lot lighter so you slide around a lot more. That, I think, is good.
“I think you’re going to be able to see the (driver’s) hands moving a lot more on the steering wheel and I think you’re going to see the cars get out of shape a lot easier,” added Montoya, who has raced for Team Penske during all three seasons of aero kit competition starting in 2015. “The chances of mistakes are higher, so I think it’s going to bring better racing.”
Servia, the Honda test driver agreed. With the downforce level of the 2018 car about one-third less than the current car, it makes driver input a greater part of the equation for car control. He says fans will be able to notice that beginning next year.
“It’s harder to see the driver work when you have a lot of downforce (on the current car),” said Servia, the 2005 Champ Car World Series runner-up who made three Verizon IndyCar Series starts this season with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. “When you have a little less (downforce) and the cars move around, at least the fans can see that we’re doing something. Good or bad, we are doing something. I think it’s going to be more fun for the fans and for us.”
Like at Indy, each driver turned more than 100 laps and both were pleased with their ability to run behind the other. They say the enormous amount of dirty air is virtually gone.
“It was great, honestly,” Servia said. “I’m not just saying it because it’s what we wanted. It really was a lot better than this year’s car.
“Even at Detroit, where the speeds are a lot less, which was my last race I did (in June), you couldn’t get close to anyone even in the slow corners because there was so much downforce,” he added. “Here, of course there was downforce, but it stays very balanced. This year’s car, the rear gets loose. And the new car, you lose a little bit of front, but not much. I was surprised. I think it’s honestly very positive.
“Apparently, science works.”
Today’s test was the second of four scheduled and run by INDYCAR. Upcoming tests are slated for Iowa Speedway (Aug. 10) and Sebring International Raceway (Sept. 26). For the second straight week, Bill Pappas, INDYCAR vice president of competition/race engineering, was pleased with the test outcome.
“We went through our test list and checked off the boxes we wanted to,” Pappas said. “Both drivers felt the car was different but comfortable. We went through tires for Firestone and got the reads on those, and Firestone is happy with that.
“And we ran the cars together at the end, which I think was the most important thing, and both drivers commented that the car was very stable behind the car in front of them. We’re very pleased with the results.”