IndyCar sets new track limit rule at COTA
Ahead of this weekend’s IndyCar Classic, the series’ first race at Circuit of The Americas, series officials have decided to allow drivers to use the run-off area exiting Turn 19 in order to reduce track limits controversies.
The wide expanse of run-off at Turn 19 allows drivers to carry more speed exiting the turn, and reduce lateral friction on the right-front tire by attacking it at a shallower angle.
The latter issue could become crucial given the length of the track – COTA is the second longest track in IndyCar – and the predicted rate at which the softer alternate compound Firestones will go off.
In terms of speed, going through this runoff area is reckoned by teams and drivers to improve lap times by 0.2-0.3sec, although it also adds the peril of the tires picking up dirt before braking for Turn 20.
Max Papis, who along with fellow ex-IndyCar race winner Arie Luyendyk advises series race director Kyle Novak in Race Control, explained to Motorsport.com that “the intent of IndyCar has been to not have to enforce track limits when it’s not needed.
“We have analyzed every corner and what we always look at is, ‘Does it affect competition?’ and ‘Does it affect safety?’ We are not going to do something that will affect safety – there are certain parameters we have to keep in play.
“Because we are not implementing track limits does not mean a driver can push another driver off the track, just because there’s asphalt instead of gravel there; we will monitor it very closely.
“During the test there was not a factor that suggested running beyond the curb would give a clear advantage. So it was decided that if you see someone run behind the curb exiting Turn 19, their lap will still count. We’re all about consistency and predictability and we’ve been putting a lot of thought behind it.
“But that is the only part of the track where you will see people deliberately running beyond the curb. Like I said, the asphalt beyond the curb is not supposed to be used for improving speed, it’s for improving safety.
“So compared to F1, at the hairpin [Turn 11] we’ve added two bumps, because what we saw in testing was that you could miss the hairpin, run wide, and still have no speed penalty. So we put two bumps there so that if you are missing the corner for whatever reason, you will not gain any advantage.”
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