ABOVE: Indy Lights driver Hunter McElrea gives the new inner chicane a try during Friday practice. Image courtesy of IMS Productions
With the high frequency of contact and crashes at the start of the Portland Grand Prix, the NTT IndyCar Series and its drivers have come up with a few ideas on how to improve upon last year’s approach to the mayhem.
On driver’s left, a new chicane within the chicane has been installed, which adds to the previous chicane system within the Turn 1 complex. Frustrations were shared by teams and drivers last year who were forced to go straight through the chicane as crashes were happening; per IndyCar’s rule, all those who failed to navigate the corner were sent to the back of the field for the restart.
By incorporating the new and slower chicane-within-a-chicane pathway, there’s a hope to avoid the need for more back-of-the-field penalties on Sunday.
“There has been a second run-off chicane added in Turn 1,” a series spokesperson told RACER. “The idea is to be able to slow down the cars enough, so that when they return to the track they have not gained or maintained their position. If drivers do not follow the (two) run-off chicane procedure, they may be subject to penalty.”
“IndyCar will evaluate how this looks and feels today and tomorrow and send a memo to confirm the procedure for Sunday’s race.”
The IndyCar drivers’ committee met Friday morning at Portland and presented a proposal to the series for the start and restarts to be moved close to Turn 1, in an effort to reduce the field’s speed upon arrival at the ultra-slow chicane. The suggestion will also be reviewed and decided upon on Saturday.