Manufacturers Anticipate Release Of 2013 IndyCar Aero Kit Regulations
Amidst the rush to make the season-opening race at St. Petersburg in just over a month, IndyCar’s three engine manufacturers are also planning for 2013’s season opener.
|There is still hope for IndyCar where in 2013 we will see the hideous looking 2012 Dallara body kit replaced with Honda, Lotus and Chevy body kits. 2013 cannot come fast enough.|
With rules almost completed for the introduction of aero kits next year, Honda Performance Development Assist Vice President Steve Erikson gave SPEED.com an update on HPD’s plans to build its own bodywork.
“It’s very much an active area of interest,” he said. “We send e-mails to [INDYCAR VP of Technology] Will Phillips every couple of days inquiring when the aero kit rules will be released. Until we have them, it’s hard to do full investigations of what’s allowed within that framework.”
Once Phillips works through more pressing issues, Erikson expects the rules and activity surrounding aero kits to move to the front burner.
“Will [Phillips] says the rules are right around the corner, and to be fair, there’s been a bit of distraction for him on other fronts, particularly the whole engine supply issue, all the teams coming out of the woodwork and supplying them, and so on, so I think that’s moved the aero regs back in their order of importance,” he said. “I’m confident we’ll have the regulations soon and people will be ready with their aero kits.”
With the rules in hand, design studies will begin by Honda and its partners. According to Erikson, it shouldn’t take long to produce Honda’s first-generation aero kit and for it to begin testing in a virtual environment.
“I think it can be a pretty quick turnaround, to be honest,” he said of the timeline involved with creating an aero kit. “And then it’s down to how late we can push the start of production to get the absolute most out of testing and development. Every day you can spend doing additional CFD runs to try new things is another day for potential performance gains. It’s a battle between the production side and the development side, and in our experience, that usually means you end up with the parts delivered a little later than you wanted them. But you hope that the performance you got out of them with that delay was worth it.”
Erikson reinforced the collaborative method HPD will employ during the development of Honda’s aero kit. Although its partners at Wirth Research are known for its aerodynamic capabilities, Erickson explained how HPD—and even its IndyCar teams—will contribute in forming the final version of its 2013 bodywork.
“It’s very much meant to be done in a close working relationship with the end users, the teams,” he said. “The first stage is to understand what we’ve got with the stock aerodynamics—to go through it with a fine-tooth comb—and to understand the basics before we determine how we want to change it. When we go to change the thing, the activity will have multiple entities within our company, Honda, and the teams and Wirth Research. It won’t just be us saying to Wirth Research to just go and make the kit; it will be done with multiple parties.”
With Chevrolet and Lotus also expected to produce its own aero kits, Erickson knows from past experience that winning the aerodynamics game will come down to the strength of the players involved with each manufacturer.
“If you look back at the [IndyCar Series] era between 2003 and 2005 and how strong we were—to the point of driving off the competition, it was because we had multiple engineering organizations working together. They all applied their efforts to a common platform. Literally, you had Ilmor in the UK, Ilmor in the US, Wirth in the UK and HPD in the US all working to make the car go faster.
“And that, combined with a very strong team lineup that was bought in to our development approach, made for a formidable program. The more people you have looking at something, the more ideas that come up and the faster you get to an optimized solution. You’ll see that same approach today as we race in IndyCar.” IndyCar.com