Last season on road and street course, IndyCar teams were forced to use only one set of tires in each of the three “knockout” qualifying segments. But this year, the teams have been allowed more leeway in creating strategies.
Each team gets six sets of primary Firestone Firehawks and three sets of alternates for the race weekend, and they must use one set each of sticker primaries and alternates during the race itself. However, with IndyCar now allowing them to use the tires during qualifying as they see fit, that could lead to more chances being taken – and, potentially, a jumbled grid for Sunday’s Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Noon ET, NBC Sports Network).
“By being able to choose at some tracks, ‘Do I use all my new tires in qualifying in an effort to guarantee myself a better position or do I think I’m better off saving new tires for the race?’ is what we’ve opened up by allowing the strategy to become more involved,” INDYCAR vice president of technology Will Phillips told the series’ official website.
Firestone is rolling out a primary tire for St. Pete that’s largely similar to last year’s, while the alternate features a compound with softer tread and more grip than last year in an attempt to create a bigger gap between performance of the two type of tires.
Qualifying begins at 2:05 p.m. ET today, with NBC Sports Network picking up coverage from St. Pete at 2:30 p.m. ET.
Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone on Tuesday said the racing series is up for sale and has as many as three potential buyers.
Ecclestone told The Associated Press that a deal could still be struck by year’s end.
“I think so, maybe this year,” Ecclestone said. “There are three people mentioned to buy. So it’s a case of whether CVC or Mr. Mackenzie wants to sell.”
Ecclestone was referring to F1’s largest and controlling shareholder, CVC Capital Partners co-chairman Donald Mackenzie.
But even if F1 is sold, the 84-year-old Eccelstone doesn’t plan on going anywhere.
“The people that I’ve spoken to … have asked me if I would stay,” Ecclestone told AP.
Monday was IndyCar team owner Michael Andretti’s 53rd birthday and son Marco was nowhere to be found – but with good reason.
The younger Andretti and Andretti Autosport teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay were both testing at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course near Lexington, Ohio.
Also taking part in the test was Schmidt Peterson Motorsport’s James Hinchcliffe.
It was Hinchcliffe’s second successful test since recovering from his horrific crash during practice for this year’s Indianapolis 500 in May.
Hinchcliffe’s first test was last week at Road America in Wisconsin.
Monday’s test session was not open to the public or media, but a Honda source told Motorsportstalk that drivers and teams reportedly focused on testing aerodynamics for the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season.