Precede to original blog:
Chevrolet is now changing the engines of all 11 Chevy drivers in advance of this weekend's Long Beach Grand Prix and, as a result, all 11 drivers will be penalized 10 grid positions for "unauthorized" engine changes.
If IndyCar now doesn't suspend the stupid rule that resulted in this insane decision, it will be the laughing stock of the sporting world.
Chevrolet decided to take action after examining the engine of James Hinchcliffe.
James Hinchcliffe of Oakville will be penalized 10 grid positions at the Grand Prix of Long Beach this weekend because his employer, Andretti Autosport, changed the engine in his car after it developed a problem during a test session earlier this week.
("Problem" is code for "blew up.")
Sebastien Bourdais will suffer the same fate, following on the heels of similar penalties being assessed previously against Alex Tagliani, Oriol Servia and Simon Pagenaud.
IndyCar, like Formula One and other progressive racing series around the world, has rules about when you can and cannot change engines. Fair enough. In the interests of conservation, the rules stipulate that the engines have to last a certain number of miles/kms or races before they can be exchanged for a fresh one. In the case of IndyCar, the first “authorized” engine change will be allowed after the Long Beach race this weekend.
Again, fair enough.
But IndyCar should look at this rule, because it’s not fair for the driver or the team to suffer if something goes wrong with an engine, which the team leases from the manufacturers/builders.
Whatever happened to Force Majeure?
After years of being a one-engine series (Honda), IndyCar opened involvement to other manufacturers this season and Chevrolet and Lotus joined up. But the series also changed the regulations. Since 1997, IndyCar had been running normally aspirated V8 power plants but for 2012 the participating manufacturers had to go back to the drawing board and come up with 2.4-liter turbocharged engines of up to six cylinders.
So IndyCar has brand new engines as well as two new manufacturers — and if somebody in the Front Office was paying attention, it might have occurred to them that perhaps this might just spell out trouble.
And it has. After years of problem-free engine running (Honda pretty much had things down pat in that department), there have now been five instances (in and/or after only two races and several tests) of engine failure involving all three manufacturers, which is not good.
So the problems appear to be with the engines and not with the teams or the drivers. Ergo, why not hit the engine manufacturers with fines — or just forget the rulebook until things settle down?
If teams are bending the rules to change engines (“the oil pressure seemed low, so we didn’t want to take a chance . . .”), then throw the rule book at them.
But if Hinchcliffe is just driving along one day and ker-pow! how come he’s the one who has to suffer?