A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Regarding pit windows, wouldn’t tire warmers greatly reduce the strategic need for stretching fuel mileage and staying out longer than one’s competitors? I agree that pit windows are a bit awkward, but anything is better than fuel economy runs where no one can afford to try a pass. If you eliminate pit windows but don’t do anything about cold tires (and the precious time lost on them), I suspect the Push-to Pass-button won’t be used much and parades will be the norm. Lando Magee, Houston, TX
Dear Lando, The advantage gained by fuel economy runs is typically as a result of trying to eliminate one pit stop, a huge advantage if the track stays green. If Champ Car were to eliminate the maximum fuel allocated for a race (Neither F1 nor NASCAR stipulate max fuel usage) and give them all the fuel they want, teams would be more apt to run all out to win a race and make full use of the P2P button. With no engine competition in Champ Car and, therefore, no runaway HP race, Champ Car should do away with silly minimum fuel mileage requirements and let them race. Sure a team can gamble and try to eliminate a pit stop in any given race, but they run the risk of the track going yellow, the cars bunching up, and a driver in 2nd or 3rd who has plenty of fuel, blowing them off on the restart and beating them to the checkered. We say eliminate both pit windows and fuel restrictions. And yes, give them tire warmers so skipping a pit stop doesn't give you as much of an advantage as it does today. 100% all-out driving should be encouraged. If they burn up their tires, that's the gamble they take, but the Bridgestone tires have proven to be quite durable. Mark C. 02/08/05
This Champ Car article
says, One thing Tony Cotman views quite differently than his predecessor (John Lopes) is the mandatory pit windows that have been a feature of the Champ Car World Series, albeit in various guises, since 2003. The pit windows — which specify the maximum laps cars may run between pit stops — were instituted to discourage teams from trying to win races on the basis of fuel mileage rather than outright speed. Although the windows put the emphasis back on speed, many — Cotman included — think the “fix" is worse than the ailment. Here is one instance where Cotman thinks having been “out" of Champ Car racing since 2002 is a positive.
“Granted, I haven’t been in the series the past two years," he says “But from a fan or spectator or a television point of view, I have had no idea what’s going on with the pit windows. And if I don’t have any idea what’s going on, how do we expect the regular fan in the stands to know what’s going on? The goal is to take it out of the hands of the officials and put the onus back on the teams. There’s definitely more than one way to win a race, and if one of them happens to be one team outsmarting everybody on fuel mileage, that’s just part of racing.
“Maybe teams can look at their strategies in a different light. I’m not saying we should all sit there saving fuel all day because that’s not necessarily going to be the way to go. But I believe there’s more positives than negatives by far." [Editor's Note: Until this rule change is announced, it is listed as a rumor.]