IndyCar returns in March and while the major regulation changes won’t be introduced till 2018, there is still some new things happening in 2017 to ensure an exciting championship.
Ganassi switches back to Honda
After running Chevrolet engines for the past three seasons, Chip Ganassi Racing Teams will return to Honda in 2017. Ganassi has won nine IndyCar championships powered by Honda engines, and has signed a multiyear deal to work with the manufacturer again.
Historically, Ganassi and Honda won four straight CART titles from 1996-99 and four straight again in the Verizon IndyCar Series from 2008-11 and one more with Scott Dixon in 2013.
IndyCar, which currently uses 2.2 litre V6 twin turbo charged engines, has two engine suppliers, Honda and Chevrolet, who compete for the Manufacturer’s Championship. The new deal makes Ganassi IndyCar’s top Honda powered team, and now that both manufacturers have five teams, Honda’s championship hopes have been boosted. However the real question is, will Ganassi and Honda’s renewed partnership topple Team Penske-Chevrolet who’s 2016 dominance lead to a 1, 2, and 3 Driver’s Championship finish?
Newgarden to Penske
Nashville’s Josef Newgarden has been signed to drive the #2 Team Penske-Chevrolet for 2017, replacing Juan Pablo Montoya. The 25 year old, who has three victories to his name, will switch from Ed Carpenter Racing, having finished 4th in the 2016 championship, best of the rest behind the Team Penske 1, 2 and 3.
Rossi to Stay
Former F1 driver, Alexander Rossi will be retaining his Andretti Autosport seat for the 2017 season. The Californian had a fantastic 2016 claiming Rookie of the year and victory at the 100th running of the legendary Indy 500. It is believed that he has given up on his Formula 1 ambitions but has a get out clause in his contact should an F1 team come looking, however I believe IndyCar is where Rossi belongs.
Maldonado to join?
Former F1 driver and race winner, Pastor Maldonado is reportedly in talks with KV Racing for road and street course program. The Venezuelan, who lost his drive at Renault in January 2016 when the money from his backers, Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA, dried up. It is believed that Maldonado is not interested in racing on oval courses, meaning that if he is signed KV Racing will either have to find another driver to race on the oval courses, which include the Indy 500 the sport’s biggest race, or only race on road and street courses, which means the team will miss six of the seventeen race calendar. Despite winning a race in F1 Pastor Maldonado is infamous for being involved in a great deal of crashes, earning him the nickname ‘Crashtor Maldonado’. Should the deal be made we might be in for some questionable racing in 2017.
Can Pagenaud defend his title?
Frenchman Simon Pagenaud claimed his first title last season, beating his team mate, three time champion Will Power in the final race last September. However in 2017 Pagenaud will again have to compete with Power and his new team mate, Joseph Newgarden who should be looking for a maiden championship now with his drive at a top team.
With eight different race winners in 2016, it is all to play for over 2017’s seventeen round race calendar. Who will come out on top in Sonoma next September?
2017 will be the final season for the aero kits based on the Dallara DW12 chassis before a brand new spec chassis kit is introduced for 2018.
IndyCar is scheduled to return on the 12th of March for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.