With Champ Cars reaching speeds nearing 250 miles per hour at some tracks, CART has announced it will reduce the maximum allowable intake manifold (turbocharger) pressure from 40 to 37 inches for the 2001 season before making a further reduction to 34 inches for 2002. The changes should decrease horsepower from the current 900 hp level to 775 in time for the 2002 season. Dan Davis, Director, Ford Racing Technology; Ian Bisco, Vice President of Cosworth Racing North America; and Jay O'Connell, Ford CART Program Manager, provide comments on CART's decision to reduce engine boost, how the decision was reached and what effects it will have on the upcoming seasons. In addition, CART FedEx Series drivers Michael Andretti and Christian Fittipaldi lend their thoughts regarding the reduction of engine boost for 2001 and 2002.
DAN DAVIS - Director, Ford Racing Technology - "I think the reduction in boost for the next two years is a step in the right direction. The truth is, we need to slow these cars down a bit at some of the tracks we go to and this was probably the best compromise solution for it without adding a lot of additional cost to the engine programs that would have come with a larger redesign effort. Our position remains that reducing the boost should be just one of several steps taken by CART to slow the cars down, however. It shouldn't be expected to be the entire solution. I think that the reduction of boost, combined with some well-thought-out aerodynamic changes, can do a lot to enhance the on-track racing in this series and allow the drivers and teams to put on a better show at all the tracks for the fans."
HOW WAS THE DECISION TO REDUCE ENGINE BOOST FOR NEXT SEASON REACHED?
IAN BISCO - Vice President, Cosworth Racing - "To be fair I think Cosworth has been proactive in recommending the boost reduction, although we did recommend a bigger reduction. When Bobby (Rahal) said that he wanted to knock 200 horsepower (off), the guys back in the UK basically said that the easiest way of doing that and the least costly to the manufacturers would be to reduce the boost. In years gone by we actually didn't want to reduce boost because of the control of the popoff valve at such low pressures, but since popoff valves have gotten so much better with electronic controls we're probably in a much better position to do that."
JAY O'CONNELL - Ford CART Program Manager - "The decision to reduce horsepower was made by CART to improve driver safety by slowing the cars down."
WHAT OBJECTIVES SET FORTH BY CART WERE MET WITH THE DECISION TO REDUCE ENGINE BOOST?
IAN BISCO - Vice President, Cosworth Racing - "I think the driving factor was safety and reducing the high speeds. The perception was that more power creates more speed, making it more dangerous. I think if we reduce power in an amicable way for all manufacturers without putting huge costs on their plate, bearing in mind that we have a rules freeze for two years, it's a good thing. It was a negotiated decision that everyone was willing to do, although a couple of manufacturers were more against it than others."
JAY O'CONNELL - Ford CART Program Manager - "CART asked the engine manufacturers to consider all alternatives to reducing power. We discussed several alternatives and all agreed that reducing boost pressure was the best way to reduce power for next season."
WAS THIS DECISION ARRIVED AT WITH THE HOPES THAT CART WOULD ALSO INSTITUTE SOME AERODYNAMIC CHANGES AS WELL?
IAN BISCO - Vice President, Cosworth Racing - "I think it was pretty unanimous really that if we (engine manufacturers) agreed to come up with a way of reducing power, there had to be some way the chassis and the aerodynamic packages would also change to improve the racing. It wasn't fair or right just to say that by reducing the power we're going to fix all the problems because that's definitely not the case and I think everybody realizes that. Along with the power reduction there has to be some aerodynamic changes as well to enable the cars to get closer to one other to be able to pass. To me Milwaukee is a classic because historically you always have side-by-side racing and passing there, but this year again they could not do it because of the wing package they're running. We have to get back a the wing package so the cars can pass one another, so if reducing the power allows them to run a wing package that allows the car to run close together and pass one another then I think it's a good thing."
JAY O'CONNELL - Ford CART Program Manager - "Our understanding is that the boost reduction is part of a 'package deal,' however CART asked our group to focus only on the power reduction. CART is also working with Firestone and the Rules and Technical committee on additional changes to the tires and chassis rules to slow the cars down and improve the racing on the short ovals."
WHAT IMPACT WILL THE REDUCTION IN BOOST HAVE ON THE ENGINE FOR NEXT SEASON?
IAN BISCO - Vice President, Cosworth Racing - "I think there will be minimal changes to the engine. It's quite a small amount of boost, so we're probably looking at somewhere in the range of 60 horsepower. We obviously have to fine tune the engine a bit to the lower boost - we haven't started doing that - (but) we don't really foresee any major changes in the engine design."
JAY O'CONNELL - Ford CART Program Manager - "The initial boost reduction to next year will have minimal impact on the current engine design, while the additional reduction for the 2002 season will have more impact."
WHAT EFFECT ON PERFORMANCE CAN WE EXPECT TO SEE WITH THE LOWER BOOST?
IAN BISCO - Vice President, Cosworth Racing - "It's probably going to knock five miles per hour off the cars, I would think, and it'll decrease torque as well. It'll take five or six horsepower off terminal speed and it will also reduce acceleration because the torque will be reduced as well."
JAY O'CONNELL - Ford CART Program Manager - "By itself the boost reduction for next year will reduce top speeds and increase lap times, however with the other changes to the chassis wing package, the power reduction may be partially offset by drag reduction. CART's intention is to improve the racing while also increasing the safety of the drivers."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI - #6 Big Kmart/Texaco-Havoline Ford-Cosworth - "I don't think the move was big enough. If they take 50 horsepower away, the engine manufacturers will find a way to get that back before the season even starts. The biggest thing they needed to do was to make a bigger move. If they would have taken 200 horsepower away, the engine manufacturers would have gained 100 of it back by midseason. They also need to come down the same percentage on downforce. That would promote safer racing. The reduction they have decided on will not be enough to make a difference, especially at places like Texas that will be very fast."
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI - #11 Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford-Cosworth - "I personally think it is a very good idea for short ovals and road circuits. I am not so sure about superspeedways, though, as all the cars are going to run wide open and closer to each other. I guess we will have to try it out to see. In general, I think it is the right direction to go
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