Indy 500 winner and 1978 Formula 1 world champion Mario Andretti believes that IndyCar will return to racing “pure” open-wheel single-seaters with the introduction of the universal aero kit.
Both Chevrolet and Honda will run the same aerodynamic package this season, in an attempt to both cut costs for competitors and improve the spectacle with cars being less affected by turbulence.
The new design, showcased at the Detroit Auto Show, places a heightened emphasis on ground effect in order to generate grip. Both the front and rear wings have been simplified along with the bargeboards.
Andretti believes that the changes made are a significant step forward for the series.
“The car is beautiful and going back to what a pure open-wheel single-seater should be,” said Andretti. “Having more ground effect and reducing the surface aero which creates the turbulence is a huge step forward.
“From here, we really have something to work with.
“The beautiful part is that there is more of a level playing field because there is one kit for all the teams to have, and of course, there is always competition across the board but you always have to keep in mind the show itself.
“You always have to keep the competitors on a level playing field.”
With cars being less susceptible to turbulent air in 2018 and with the weight distribution being moved forward, drivers will experience a more predictable car this season.
Combined with the relative equalisation of the pecking order, the aim is to create a more engaging show that features more wheel-to-wheel battles on-track.
IndyCar hopes to build upon recent growth. Last season, broadcaster NBCSN reported a 16 percent increase in viewership compared with 2016. Attendance at the race venues has also been steadily increasing.
Andretti highlighted the importance of improving the on-track spectacle in order to continue the trend.
“I think from what was learned in the last few years, in the previous car, a big step has now been made to achieve what all the drivers have been complaining about, which is that I just can’t get close to the guy in front of me,” he said.
“And, let’s face it, our audiences today are more sophisticated than ever and they want more and more from us as far as the product, action on the track, overtaking and so forth.
“We have to give it to them because that is ultimately what we like too and this is the best way to achieve it.”