Grand Prix of Long Beach Notebook There will be a standing start for Sunday’s IndyCarToyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. But do not expect it to be anything like the standing starts of Formula One.
“It’s more unpredictable,” said IndyCar racer and former Formula One racer Justin Wilson. “IndyCar is definitely more unpredictable. Formula One is all computer systems with a little launch control. The computer learns that you need so much power and time and speed. It makes it a lot easier.”
Standing starts are rare in IndyCar; they were used at only Toronto and Houston last year. This will be the first standing start at Long Beach since 2008, the last year of CART, and only the second since Formula One raced at Long Beach.
“We pushed hard,” Grand Prix CEO Jim Michaelian said of seeking standing starts from IndyCar. “It’s tradition. We’ve done it for years off and on. It brings a new element to the race and we had the capability to do it because we widened Turn 1.”
There will be two sets of lights to indicate when it is time to race, one in front of the top qualifiers and one on the pedestrian bridge for those cars in the rear of the 26-car field. They will be hung on Friday.
“These cars aren’t designed to do standing starts,” Wilson said. “You’re trying to get the right RPMs and to get the clutch to slip just right. It is not easy. The different between a great start and stalling is pretty small.” Drivers will have a chance to practice their starts in an area by pit road.
“The biggest objective is getting traction,” said Ryan Hunter-Reay, who won the 2010 Long Beach race. “It’s very easy to spin the tires. It’s all in the driver’s hands, literally, because you have the clutch paddle system. It’s a matter of revs and taking out the clutch.”
Drivers slam on the gas and dump the clutch when leaving their pit stalls, which leads to spinning tires, something that is detrimental in a race start.
They will have a chance to practice the starts just off pit road Friday and Saturday. But Wilson said it will be useless at some point.
“You don’t learn much because you get too much rubber down,” he said. “For us it all happens manually. If you do well, you feel great.” Long Beach Press Telegram
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