Chevrolet topped the leaderboards during IndyCar’s pre-season tests at Barber Motorsports Park earlier this month, but we won’t know which manufacturer has the faster pace until the green flag waves at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg this weekend.
As USA Today explains, the disparity between the Chevrolet and Honda cars could be the result of more well-funded and elite teams and drivers using the Chevy package, such as Team Penske’s Will Power and Chip Ganassi Racing’s Simon Pagenaud. However the possibility that the Honda cars were sandbagging it on purpose or are simply inferior is still a possibility.
This season, IndyCar introduced ‘aero kits’, add-on pieces that will enhance the downforce of the cars and create for increased cornering speed and hopefully, more competitive races. Because the packages are so different, it’s almost certain that one will be better than the other. The Chevys were faster in practice and Power, reigning series champ, predicts it will stay that way come race time.
“First practice will be interesting, but I think I know how this is going to go. Unless Honda has been playing games really good, I think it will be all the Chevys and then all the Hondas,” he told USA Today.
Don’t get your “Chevrolet: 2015 IndyCar Manufacturer’s Champions” tattoo just yet, though. The bowtie may have occupied the top positions at Barber, but that was a road course, and the Hondas could be faster on the oval tracks or on tight street courses like St. Petersburg, for example.
“What might be interesting is the Honda kit or Chevy kit might be better on a street course or road course or oval,” explained Pagenaud. “We don’t know yet. You might see an advantage, one kit for a certain situation. And then the engine might compensate a situation or might amplify the situation.”
If the differences between the Honda and Chevy racecars are so big where “half the grid might as well stay at home,” as IndyCar president Derrick Walker puts it, the manufacturers may petition to have three component upgrades at the end of the season. The racers don’t think this will be the case, however, with Honda-driving Rahal confident they can “close that gap” between the brands.