By Josh Farmer, IndyCar Reporter & NASCAR Contributor
The debate on the domed skids for the superspeedways seems to be pretty split throughout the Verizon IndyCar Series paddock.
The domed skits are mounted on the bottom of the chassis and are designed to change the airflow under the car when the car spins in order to keep the cars from getting airborne.
With the domed skids comes a reduction in downforce, As a result of that, the downforce generated by the bottom of the cars is reduced due to the raising of the ride height. Then again, much of the downforce of the car is now generated from the top of the car because of the aero kits. The ride height also has to be set higher in order to compensate for the skids, which reduces mechanical grip on the car.
Despite the potential benefits of the domed skids, 2014 Indianapolis 500 Ryan Hunter-Reay expressed concerns that the quality of the racing would suffer because of the decreased grip.
“These cars like to be low,” he said. “The floor, the body, the undertray works best when the car is low to the ground. When you pick up the car to accommodate the domed skid, you compromise downforce. The most efficient downforce on the car is the bottom side and that is how we race close together. If you compromise that, it is harder to close in.”
With the loss of grip also comes potentially making overtaking more difficult due to the loss of mechanical grip. Regardless, Team Penske’s Juan Pablo Montoya feels that the skids are necessary in the name of safety.
“What I think what they are doing with the domed skids is better,” said Montoya. “From a safety point of view it is a great thing.”
“Does it drive a little worse, yeah it drives a little worse but from a safety point of view it is a must. It’s the same for everybody.”
In contrast to Hunter-Reay’s comment, Montoya noted that draft seemed bigger during the test. Only a handful of cars had the opportunity to drive in a pack, and couple that with the 40 mph winds, a true test of the effect of the skids will come into play once practice begins for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.
KV Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais echoed the same opinion of Montoya and that the teams will have to have to find downforce to compensate for the loss of mechanical grip.
“We’re just going to have to find downforce some other way,” he said. “When you raise the car so much, the car doesn’t handle nowhere near as nice.”
Image Credit: Chris Jones/IndyCar