Photo: IndyCar

INDYCAR confirms four primary manufacturer extensions

1 Comment

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – INDYCAR’s four primary manufacturers – engine/aero kit partners Chevrolet and Honda, tire partner Firestone and chassis partner Dallara – have all announced multiyear extensions during a press conference on Friday at this weekend’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

While none of those manufacturers would be pressed on the exact year of their extensions, multiyear is believed to mean at least through 2020 with the potential it is longer than that.

At the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January, Dallara was announced for an extension through 2020. This meant that even if Dallara was not to be selected as the manufacturer of INDYCAR’s new 2018 universal aero kit, the base Dallara DW12 chassis would be pressed into service for three further years beyond 2017.

In the same month, INDYCAR also announced a multiyear extension with Firestone, whose prior contract ran through 2018.

Honda’s last announced contract extension was at the IndyCar media day in February 2016, which was for two years (2016-2017) with a three-year option (2018-2020). Although Honda did not confirm that portion today, the confirmation of an extension here implies a sync up with at least 2020 per that option length, and with the Dallara date confirmation in January.

Chevrolet does not comment on the length or exact dates of its extensions except to say multiyear. But their confirmation today is good news to ensure the series maintains engine competition for the forthcoming years.

Both Honda’s Art St. Cyr and Chevrolet’s Mark Kent stated for the record they would welcome a third manufacturer, although from a signing, building and developing an engine standpoint, it’s highly unlikely one would arrive before 2019.

St. Cyr, Kent, Dallara’s Stefano De Ponti, Firestone’s Lisa Boggs and INDYCAR’s Jay Frye were all present at today’s announcement in St. Petersburg.

A further analysis of the extension with quotes will follow in due course.

Hartley happy with ‘big progression’ on first day with Toro Rosso

Getty Images
Leave a comment

With 69 laps completed (28 in free practice one and 41 in free practice two) and respectable lap times in both sessions, Brendon Hartley quickly acclimated to a modern day Formula 1 chassis in his first run with Scuderia Toro Rosso in Friday practice for the United States Grand Prix.

The Porsche factory driver has been drafted into the team following a convoluted series of musical chairs that sees Daniil Kvyat back after a two-race absence, Carlos Sainz Jr. now at Renault and Pierre Gasly racing at the Super Formula season finale in Suzuka.

Over the time in the car today, Hartley experienced changeable conditions in FP1 before a more normal FP2, and discovered the new F1 cockpit after a day learning in the garage yesterday.

“A steep learning curve today! It all went pretty smoothly and I kept the car on track without making too many mistakes, so I’m quite happy,” the New Zealander reflected at day’s end.

“I didn’t really know what to expect from today because I just had so much to learn! I think I made quite a big progression throughout the day.

“The biggest difference from what I’m used to is the high-speed grip, it’s incredible here in Formula 1…it was quite an eye-opener! Another challenge are the tires, which are also quite different to what I’m used to. On the other hand, the long-run looks quite positive and I did a good job managing the tires there – the biggest thing I need to work on now is the new tire pace, and I’ll get another crack at it tomorrow morning before qualifying.

“All in all, I’d say it’s all coming together. We’ll now work hard and go through plenty of data tonight and hopefully I’ll make another step forward tomorrow.”

His best lap was 1.1 seconds up on Friday driver Sean Gelael, the Indonesian Formula 2 driver, in FP1 (1:39.267 to 1:40.406, good enough for 14th) and 1.1 seconds off the returning Kvyat in FP2 (1:37.987 to 1:36.761, good enough for 17th). Interestingly, the Gelael/Hartley combination in FP1 marked the second time in three races that Toro Rosso had a pair of drivers in its cars without a single Grand Prix start between them – Gasly’s debut at Malaysia was the other, when he and Gelael were in in FP1.

Coming into Friday’s running, Hartley said he was more ready for this opportunity now than he had been as a teenager. He admitted he’d called Red Bull’s Helmut Marko in the wake of Porsche’s LMP1 withdrawal news earlier this year to say he was game for any chance that might come.

“I’m a lot stronger than I was back then, basically. I wasn’t ready at 18 years old. I like to think I’m ready now,” he said.

“I haven’t driven a single-seater since 2012, but I like to think that Porsche LMP1 has hopefully prepared me well.”

As for the rest of his weekend, it’s been made more complicated by Hartley being assessed a 25-spot grid penalty, even though Hartley had done nothing to accrue the penalties.

The roundabout sequence of driver changes at Toro Rosso saw Gasly replace Kvyat, Kvyat replace Sainz, and now Hartley replace Gasly, as is outlined by NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton below.