Josef Newgarden, IndyCar, St Petersburg, 2020

IndyCar postpones season opener at St Petersburg

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In the round-up: IndyCar has become the latest motor racing series to postpone its season-opening round due to the pandemic. The delay to the Grand Prix of St Petersburg means the championship will now begin at Barber Motorsport Park in April.

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Comment of the day

With both the Australian and Chinese grands prix in doubt, H67 says that expectations for 2021 need to be adjusted:

I’m absolutely fine with 2021 becoming another version of 2020. People understand it’s still to dangerous to hold to the kind of schedule F1 wanted. So scramble it up and race where possible.

The new normal of 2022 may present the all-new car and the F1 calendar and its the series we all hope for.
H67

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Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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  • 45 comments on “IndyCar postpones season opener at St Petersburg”

    1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
      7th January 2021, 1:31

      I hope they think about another iRacing Indycar series

      1. Yes, it was great last year, the best virtual series by a high level racing series. The F1 virtual series was lame, especially playing it on the bad f1 game.

    2. Good ol Bernie eh?

      My view on this is that F1 needs to decide what it wants to become. Easier said than done. Is it entertainment or a test bed for road car technology? Looking through F1’s history, one has to wonder if entertainment and being a test bed has ever converged? Perhaps in the 80s?

      We only started seeing widespread sales of low cc engined turbo charged road cars in the late 2000s (?), before that it was largely niche, with some hot hatches, Japanese sports cars, Saabs and Volvos. Pretty much every ICE road car now has a low CC engine mated to a turbo, even Toyotas and Hondas, have turbos! I dont think the V10s and V8s had any road relevance whatsoever, apart from the complex engine management systems that would have made its way into road cars in some way shape or form. Hybrid tech was well established in road cars (ok, primarily in Toyotas) before it came to F1. Sure, the energy recovery technology developed for F1 will go a long way into road cars should ICE vehicles survive. This type of hybrid tech we are seeing right now (with all the energy recovery) is primary focused on the performance end of the motor car spectrum at this stage, it will take years to trickle down into the average road car.

      And this is the crux of the matter. Since the ICE motorcar is on its last legs (10 to 15 years to go in some countries), is it worth spending 100s of millions to develop technology that will be come redundant in just over decade? One can expect more countries to sign up to this endeavour in the coming years. When the new formula comes into play, would the manufacturers be interested in developing an ICE based PU that will be resigned to the scrapheap of history in under a decade? And then, post 2035, what happens? Sure we want F1 be the pinnacle of motorsport, but at the same time, I’m not sure I’d want to watch heavy-ish (agreed that this will become lighter) electric (BEV or HFCEV) vehicles buzz by, after the visceral experiencing of V10s and V8s. (PS: The last race I went to in person was in the V8 era)

      So, I think there is an argument to bring back V8s, but that would mean F1 will go the way of horse racing (sorry can’t think of anything better), and it would also mean that barring Ferrari, no major manufacturer would be involved. Is that a bad thing? Safe to say, it is a hard choice…and perhaps Bernie has a point? Or could there be a crazy idea where 2 or 3 races in the calendar be made “V8 rounds” where all the drivers drive pre 2009 spec cars (everyone gets the same car, say made by Dallara powered by Cosworth!!)! 😊

      1. @jaymenon10 judging by the responses below, Bernie knows how to encourage the same type of reactionary fan who wants the sport to be stuck in a fantasy version of what it was like in the past.

        1. @anon Bernie knows how to set up F1 to grow and make money, and he knows how to sell it.
          The ‘fantasy’ you seem to think people are wrong about is better than the current reality.
          The current engines are the least popular ever – or do you dispute that too?

          No-one is arguing for winding back the clock or for no development – just for something provides a better balance for viewers and stakeholders alike. Something that we all know works well is as good a place as any to start.

          1. To find a supplier for V10s or V8s IS to shut down development. There will be nobody investing the money into development if they commision them. Why would you waste that money on the engines?

            1. @bascb F1 is still a massive marketing space. Manufacturing brands want that media exposure – but they simply aren’t willing to pay V6 turbo hybrid money to get it.
              Why do they build GT cars? Why do they produce TCR cars? To sell their brand.

          2. S, firstly, “winding back the clock” is exactly what is being proposed by Bernie – he wants everything to go back in time to what the sport was like 15 years ago.

            Secondly, to put it bluntly, there are quite a few posters here who have forgotten quite how many complaints were being made when the proposal to introduce the V8 engines came forward – in fact, there are some arguing for the V8’s now who were the same people who argued against their introduction 15 to 20 years ago.

            The proposal to introduce the V8 engines was not at all popular – on the contrary, it was fairly heavily criticised by the fans, the drivers and the teams at the time for being a waste of money and effort (for example, Dr Theissen, the head of BMW’s engine programme, complained that the introduction of the engines, and then the frequent rule changes over the next few years, resulted in considerable unnecessary cost inflation).

            You say that “we all know it works well”, but they really didn’t – they were expensive, and we know from Taffin that the facade of cheapness was because, in reality, the manufacturers agreed a deal with the FIA to sell their engines to their customers below the cost of production in return for the FIA promising to scrap a number of their proposed rule changes in 2010 that they disliked (Taffin confirming that Renault was selling their engines at 50% of their production cost as part of that deal).

            Fans here complained that the engines were gutless and underpowered, whilst we’ve also had drivers like Massa and Webber comment about how the introduction of the V8 engines made the cars so much easier to drive. Meanwhile, both fans and manufacturers complained that the heavy standardisation and then freezing of the regulations meant that the V8 era was the era that was most heavily dominated by aerodynamic performance above all else, since that really became the only performance differentiator.

            1. @anon So quick to mention a minority of people making complaints, but so slow to recognise just how many people really dislike the current engines, for whatever reasons they choose.
              And going back to V8’s doesn’t at all need to eliminate technological development. They are equally useful as any other engine in getting sustainable and renewable carbon-neutral fuels sorted and improved – fuels that don’t require mining the earth dry of lithium instead of oil.

              The only part I can fully agree with is that the V8’s were not as good as previous engine formula.
              But they were still a lot nicer than the current one.

        2. I just want equalised engines so we can have championships go to the wire as they did almost every season between 2006-13. The noise is a secondary benefit.

          These current regulations haven’t worked. Mercedes untouchable, the 2021 championship a foregone conclusion. Hamilton’s only competition a guy who got beat comprehensively for a substitute driver still figuring out the limits of the car.

      2. i get your nostalgia there @jaymenon10 – I actually visited 2 races in the hybrid era. And yeah, that bone rattling, eardrum popping noise even when coming from the other side of the circuit really was something with the big engines, I must say that I had a far better time actually watching the races this way.
        The cars still make sounds, you can hear far mor interesting stuff (since you don’t actually need earplugs for your ears to survive up close), you can even hear the coverage on the screens, the fans cheering and you can discuss what is going on with your friends. I am sure I would not have been able to get the whole family, including my wife’s sister etc, out to visit an F1 race with those old noisy engines.

        The reality is that the noise will never be coming back. Almost all tracks nowadays have sound limits that put a stop to having as much incredible noise going on. Zandvoort probably couldn’t happen, Spa is limited, Monza is. CotA is. Even Monaco might be. Not all people out there are fans and that means adapting to the world.

        You are right to highlight that the sport really needs to think about the path forward. And yeah, new ICE engines for road vehicles, or even the thought of everyone HAVING cars is an ending era, so they do have to take that in account. But no, I would not be much interested in a Ferrari / Red Bull back to loud F1.

        1. There will always be fans shouting for the noise rather than for the racing and tech aspects.
          As there will be some people who prefer Monster Truck racing over a Dakar Rally.

          Luckily we see more references to Dakar Rally in the round-up than to Monster Truck racing or the Top Gear world tour.

          PS – well done @hazelsouthwell to have a round-up of recent motorsports articles from around the web, rather than some old quotes and irrelevant social media posts.

          1. I am sure there will be @coldfly. Isn’t it great that our world can offer us so many different forms of spending our time and money!

            Also, I agree that the round-up up really gives a good and wide range of articles in recent days, despite the inevitable low intensity news cycle. Has been fun reading them.

          2. @coldfly – Would you say the racing has been generally better since the introduction of the hybrid engines? Has the sport been as competitive as it was previously?

            1. Not sure if it’s better or worse, and even then so if this is due to the engine format. @petebaldwin.
              I’m much more excited about the current format due to the technical advances (keeps me busy outside the racing days) and that I can drop the earplugs.
              Also I’m known to enjoy the midfield battles as much as the fight for the win. I don’t have a feeling that we have less now.
              At least they dropped those ridiculous power equalisation rules.

            2. Bottom line for me, they won’t be reverting back to V8’s, and ICE(s) will be around for quite a long time yet, way more than 10-15 years, and hybrid technology will keep developing and improving and that is the way F1 will go for their next pu and likely the one after that. The only question will be as to when the ICE will be run with synthetic fuel and it sounds like that could be as soon as their next pu in 2025. More and more efficient hybrid domestic cars will also be around for a long time yet, as full electric just has way too far to go before they are anywhere near practical enough and the infrastructure is in place, and I suspect full electric may not even be the way of the future as other ideas get developed.

        2. @bascb

          “And yeah, new ICE engines for road vehicles, or even the thought of everyone HAVING cars is an ending era, so they do have to take that in account”

          I think this is a very important point. I’ve argued for many years that cities worldwide should mandate car-free city centres in future, or at least be working up a framework for it. This would mean if you live in a metropolitan area, you do not (or cant) need to own a car. I believe this will happen in future. If current trends ensue, further urbanisation of populations will continue, which means larger majorities will congregate in cities, hence the owning of a car, may become redundant. Personal vehicles will still exist (certainly in rural areas, and businesses will own them), but I believe their purpose and potentially even concept of ownership may be very different.

          So this brings me back to my point, if there is no point in investing in a product that, well, isn’t going to sell in large numbers in future (say 20 years), whats the point in spending hundred of millions? I believe that big auto will stop seeing motor racing as platform to market their products. Its already happening. All the brands that will appear on the grid in 2021, Honda aside, AMG (which is taking a larger position in Merc’s branding), Alpine, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Mclaren, Alfa Romeo (which one would argue is a niche brand) are hardly your everyday daily drivers (I mean its not like you can drive your Alfa daily even if you wanted to! :)).

          What happens when big auto isn’t interested? F1 will need to sell a product that people want to consume, and by the 2030s, there will be a whole generation of person who has not heard the scream of the V10, or V8, imagine that experience! How would that sit with the consumer? I would be surprised if V8s, or 10s ever come back, but at the same time, it wont be a complete shock. Sure, regulation may not let it happen, but hey, one can dream!

          PS: I have been to various V10 and V8 races, never used ear plugs ever, that would have been sacrilege..haha..and I recently went for my offshore medical, passed the hearing test with flying colours!! :)

          1. @jaymenon10 Some interesting points in there.
            Many city dwellers will still want to own cars as that is the most efficient (or only) way to achieve some things, such as travelling the countryside, shopping, moving house, etc. Depends on the city, of course, and the quality and affordability of public conveniences.
            If cars continue to become increasingly complex and expensive (including hybrid and battery systems) then it is perfectly feasible that outright ownership may decrease, and communal ownership or hire/lease systems may increase. Many people don’t need to use their car every day, so it may not make sense for them to ‘own’ it every day.

            As for F1 – as you mention, mainstream automotive manufacturing groups are increasingly using their performance/niche brands for sporting endeavours so as to distance their core business and marketing aims from their sporting ones. Economy, efficiency, technology and value for the masses is the polar opposite of environmentally harmful, technologically stagnant and excessively expensive car racing.
            They still want to be involved and take advantage of F1’s marketing reach, but they don’t want to be associated with the negative aspects of F1.
            So what does F1 do when manufacturers are no longer interested in exploiting the marketing facade? F1 needs to change the rules to ensure its own survival. Ultimately they need to decide what they are really about and how they make most of their money.
            Is it the illusion of technical competition and advantage (which has been almost completely ruled and regulated out), or is it in providing an entertaining racing product that people want to watch and enjoy – something that provides an escape from the mundane reality they endure for the rest of the week?
            They’ve been quick to pick manufacturers over viewers for quite a while, but will this continue?

            1. S – It might depend on where you are, but in my experience more and more people in Cities do not own a car and would already find quite a few hurdles if they would want to own one. Owning cars IS going to be more expensive. And cities in many countries have been looking at making parking near city centres almost prohibitatively expensive as well as regulated with permits for residents, businesses etc.
              In western countries cars sit idle about 70-80% of the time, taking up (expensive) space in city centres. And when they are used, the avarage number of passengers is only little over 1. That is not a sustainable transport model. And since the resources (and pollution) for building electric vehicles are even larger, it would be a waste of them to build cars which then do nothing.
              As @jaymenon10, rightly argues, it is quite likely that there will be more and more reasons NOT to have cars sitting in all streets, and more and more reasons not to be able to drive them within cities. So why own them.

              Also, all manufacturers seem to be looking at going towards leasing of cars, or renting them out. With electric cars, that might become even more of a factor. Just look at who owns the largest networks for on the go charging and who is willing to invest in them. Also, it helps them keep the customers going back to official service centres, a network they will want/have to maintain anyway.

              I think we are likely to see a shift away from private ownership of cars towards companies leasing vehicles, small business leasing / renting vehicles as well as people who regularly need their cars. And on the other hand more regular renting of cars and use of public transport in some form to get around.

              With development of small electric motors for tuktuks, bike-taxis and scooters, that will probably be a large factor for transport in places where car ownership is not as widespread currently. Which is also often a form of private business providing public transport in many places of the world.

              As for “picking manufacturers over viewers” that is nonsense. Without the manufacturers we would not have any engines to run the cars. And the racing currently is a lot better overall than it was a decade ago. Refuelling, grooved tyres, the enormous cost of competition, etc. None of it made for great racing, apart from our rose tinted glasses when looking back.

    3. Bernie is right (as usual).

      When the relatively cheap and uncomplicated V8 engines were effectively homologated 2006-13 we had championships go down to the wire in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 (went to second last race), 2010, 2013.

      The only two seasons that were “uncompetitive” were 2011 where McLaren still won 6 races (3 Button, 3 Hamilton), and 2013 when teams gave up after mid-season break (close championship until then).

      Since 2014 we’ve had a ridiculous 71 Mercedes front row lockouts (Ferrari 15 during their championship run 2000-04), the only real competition between two sides of the garage with Bottas slower than Russell racing the Merc for the first time with someone else’s setup.

      1. Bernie is as right here as he was last year calling for the complete season to be nixed Dean F. Why do people keep asking him for his obsolete opinion.

        1. Bernie wasn’t wrong there either.
          17 championship races, or 17 non-championship would still have meant the same thing.

          1. It would have meant we would not have seen the Mugello race. Or Gasly winning in Monza. Drivers fighting through the weather in Turkey. Perez winning in Bahrain. Imola with modern F1 cars.

            And more importantly, it would have meant putting teams out of business mr “S”. If you feel that is no difference?

            1. How so?
              Every TV broadcaster and sponsor would still have been coughing up cash for the same product.
              No team would have needed to be in any different financial position with the same number of races.

              Regardless of championship/non-championship status, F1 would still have tried to cram in as many events as possible, because that’s how they make money.
              They could even have done a bunch of other things that could have increased income that they can’t otherwise do with championship contracts in play.

            2. S, Liberty Media explicitly stated in their financial statements that the revised schedule resulted in the TV broadcasters paying lower fees:
              “Primary F1 revenue decreased mainly due to the limited race promotion revenue received since fans were prohibited at all but one race during the third quarter. This was partially offset by growth in broadcasting and advertising and sponsorship fees due to the impact of higher proportionate recognition of season-based income with three additional races during the current period, as well as the impact of recognising revenue over fewer races in 2020.

              “However, both broadcasting and advertising and sponsorship revenues were lower than originally contracted. The altered schedule triggered lower broadcasting fees pursuant to the contractual terms within certain broadcasting agreements, and also led to other one-time changes as certain broadcasting fees were renegotiated for the current year.”

              Even with just a reduced calendar that was still a championship season, Liberty Media was having to accept reduced payments from their broadcasters and their sponsors because the final calendar deviated from what they originally promised. If the entire calendar was filled with non-championship races, then Liberty Media would almost certainly be voiding their contracts with their sponsors and broadcasters and would be receiving significantly reduced fees as a result.

            3. @anon
              I’m pretty confident they could have arranged alterations to existing contracts. Especially so if they are still supplying the exact same product regardless of whether it is called a championship or not.
              There were, after all, significant unexpected and unforeseeable circumstances involved.

            4. S – what Bernie argued for was to just NOT race at all. Nobody is going to pay for that. And it means neither Liberty, nor the teams would have any income to speak of for the year.
              How does that not lead to teams going out of business??

            5. S, your own point also applies to the 2020 season as well – if Liberty Media could so easily “have arranged alterations to existing contracts”, then why didn’t they do so for this season?

              What you are demanding from the broadcasters is an inflated fee per race, since you’d be asking them to disregard clauses in their existing contracts that would result in a reduced fee to them with a modified calendar.

              Sky, as one notable example, reported a 15.5% fall in their revenues in the first half of 2020 – which is exactly the same period in which you would then be trying to negotiate with them to ask them to pay a higher fee per race than they were required to under their existing contract.

              What business is going to want to increase their costs at a time when those same broadcasters were reporting that their income was falling sharply?

      2. BE was right… do you mean the sprinkler thing or the current waffle?

        1. Dean Franklin
          8th January 2021, 3:36

          Sprinklers, the engines.

          He hated the hybrids from the start. The sound, the engine tokens, how unequalised it made it at the front of the field. They’ve been a disaster for the sport. Imagine where the sport would be sitting now with competitive championships between different teams every year.

          The biggest highlight since 2014 has been the charade between either side of the garage in 2016. It’s not a real fight when the driver in the lead gets first choice for pitstop, not allowed to run contra strategies, one rule for one teammate one rule for the other, etc.

          You can take your pick of 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012 and any one of those seasons were better than anything dished up since 2014.

    4. Yeah Bernie, while we are at it we could develop a new type of fuel made from modern day fossils like yourself!

    5. I think detuning the v8s to last 6 races each, matched to a KERS system would be great. Who cares about road relevance, this is meant to be entertainment. It would also bring down costs.

      1. What does road relevance mean if cars are replaced by public transport? Does F1 become a sport where the winner can minimise travel time between two cities on a bus during peak hour?
        And if cars finally become airborne, will F1 have to follow? Good luck policing track limits then.
        A lot of motorsports have eased up on homologation specials and allow a more superficial link between a road car and it’s race equivalent. Having more manufacturers/teams involved tends to improve interest and entertainment.

        So, I agree. F1 should ease up on being relevant for the road and focus on being a sport first.

        1. F1 should ease up on being relevant for the road and focus on being a sport first.

          Many fans don’t understand that F1 has always been a teamsport which ‘entertained’ with great races (not necessarily the best) based on technological motoring engineering innovations. It’s certainly always been more than just finding the best driver in similar (loud) cars.

          Some seem to want those innovations to go towards most decibels per km.

    6. Re V8 engines: Would be great to see them back!

      1. V8 were flat boring. 2006 season was a disaster. Ugly flat sound comparing to V10.

    7. V8’s on sustainable, plant-based (carbon neutral) fuel would be nice. Bernie has some kooky ideas sometimes, but he speaks a lot of sense sometimes too.
      It wouldn’t be abandoning the (illusion of) technical development and relevance, but merely redirecting it in a different direction. Globally speaking – arguably a better direction than pure electrification, as most of the world will still be selling petrol engines far beyond whatever date a handful of wealthy countries decide to stop.
      Ultimately, swapping fossil fuels for lithium and plastics isn’t solving the problem, but rather shifting it to another place.

      I’d very much prefer to see F1 drop the ‘engine specification’ style of regs and return to an ‘engine formula’ system, whereby teams can build their own designs and formats, using whatever tech they think is best for them.
      They used to do it with a capacity limit; they could do it with a fuel limit or a power/weight ratio or other similar means to allow and encourage engineering diversity and actual technical development.
      Tech doesn’t advance very quickly without competition – and when everyone is building the same engine for 12 years, what will F1 really have accomplished by 2025?

      In the last 15 years F1 has moved to both a single tyre supplier and a tightly controlled single engine specification. And nobody is really happy with either of them.
      Let’s hope they learn their lesson this time.

    8. I couldn’t disagree more with BE.

    9. Saddened to hear about Pat Patrick.

      On the F1 Mobile Racing champion, it was just a matter of internet connection coupled with track length as many rivals had better average score, but congrats to the tilting champion.

    10. Switching back to the V8’s would likely end up with teams/manufacturer’s spending more money in the short term than they would sticking with what we have now.

      It’s not as if you could just go & grab one of the old V8’s off the shelf, Install it in a current car & that would be it. Teams would have to totally redesign the cars not only to get the old V8’s to fit but also around the other changes to car balance etc… that would occur & Manufacturer’s would have to switch out all of the manufacturing equipment in the factories in order to build new engine’s & spares.

      And also factor in that if the engine formula changed significantly again 4-5 years later they would then have to do all of that again to meet the new spec which is something I don’t think we will see sticking with what we have now given that I expect the next engine formula will be more of an evolution of the current one rather than something totally different.

      1. If they do this, they would also have to bring back refuelling on top of that @stefmeister. Or lug gas tanks that are almost twice the size with them, making the cars even bigger!

    11. I was never really that fond of the 2006-2013 era V8’s, Especially compared to the formulas that came before it. I just always thought they sounded fairly flat & they all sounded the same. With the pre 2006 engine’s & with the V6 turbo’s we have had since 2014 you could/can tell the difference between each manufacturer as each produces a different tone. Not to mention how those engine’s lacked low down torque & were easier to drive than what came before/after.

      I also always felt that the engine freeze & 18,000rpm rev limit did almost as much to hinder overtaking as the aero did. You can go back & watch so many OnBoards during that era with cars in the slipstream lining up a pass only to start bouncing off the limiter before been able to pull out to have a go at passing.

      And let’s not forget that fans did nothing but complain about that formula & the development freeze. Go back & read comments from that period & you will see many fans insisting it was a bad formula & that they should go back to what we had before…… Sound familiar?

      1. @roger-ayles at least somebody here has a memory of the past and can recall what people were really saying so often, and not the rose tinted version that they want to tell to themselves a few decades later.

        As you note, people were a lot more critical of that period then than they are now – you also forgot to mention how the fans complained about how only a small number of teams were able to dominate the sport in that period and the lack of competition up and down the field, but apparently that is easily glossed over as well.

        1. People complained in the 90’s, 2000’s too.

          People complained about the tyres especially between 2011-13.

          But the reality is 2006-13 had hard fought championships between different teams that went down to the wire in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 (second last race), 2010, 2012.

          Between 2014-20 we’ve had hard fought championships between different teams that went down to the wire in ZERO seasons.

          I’ll let others decide which era was better.

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