Zanardi slams IndyCar ‘pack’ racing mentality

Alex Zanardi

"As I often say, it's not speed the cause of such a crash. If anything, it could be an aggravating factor," Zanardi said in an interview with Autosprint magazine.

"My early years of oval racing, up to 1998, were always very dangerous. Back then, setting up the car meant finding a compromise on the car's speed. You would let it slide until the downforce wasn't yet too low in a way that penalizes turn speed too much.

"It was drift driving (which takes talent), and tire degradation was an important parameter. If a driver crashed against the wall, it was usually his own mistake after he had underestimated these factors.

"Nowadays, instead, driving has become too easy. At turn entry, mid turn, and turn exit, the car is attached to the road surface. In the name of safety – in principle it was even right – the intention was to slow down the cars by giving them an exaggerated amount of downforce, and therefore high drag.

"The result was that, in order to find speed, you now see set-ups with the front being 7cm higher than the rear to lessen the wing's influence! This is nonsense, but it's a necessity to beat the stop watch."

"At Las Vegas it wasn't a race between drivers anymore. It was a pack of cars moving all together, bunched up with no chance of breaking off. Now, when you race for five minutes with your rival right next to your side, at the point that you notice if his sponsor stickers are not straight, when it's too easy do drive even on the outside line…

"At that point it's like driving with a tutor. An obscenely idiotic thing, because then you distract yourself for not concentrating enough. After a while, even if you are travelling at 340 km/h, you don't realize it anymore."

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