The NTT IndyCar Series hopes to keep more cars in action at oval events through the introduction of a new front suspension component.
Glancing blows between right-front wheels and walls on corner exits happen at least once per race, and thanks to the rigidity of the steering arms — the rods that connect the steering rack to the front suspension uprights — the usual outcome in that contact is a bent steering arm.
Developed by IndyCar chassis supplier Dallara, teams will have mandatory new and more flexible front steering arms to install for the five oval events next year. The units are also permitted for use on the 12 road and street courses, if desired, where wheel-to-wheel contact can also bend or break a steering arm, just as Alex Palou experienced at Road America when he and Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Marcus Ericsson clashed in June.
The secondary benefit of the new steering arms, which only flex in hard hits — thanks to the thinner tubing (in yellow, above) at the outer connection to the uprights — comes with a reduction in force shot through the drivers’ hands and wrists when contact is made.
“I will personally recommend their use everywhere because I think this will reduce thumb and wrist injuries,” IndyCar’s Tino Belli told RACER. “If you hit the wall, the new steering arms tend to give a bit more, so it’s going to be less violent in how the force is received through the steering wheel.
“It has been checked for strength and is approved on all circuits, with a requirement of their use on the ovals. We don’t want to force our teams to change to them everywhere if they don’t want to, so it gives them a chance to use what they’ve got. But I think they will see the benefits once they’re used for the first time, which is normal for anything that’s new.”