Minor changes to the Indycar rulebook, most of which won’t be noticed by fans, intend to make conditions safer and hope to improve the racing.
The two things that fans will notice is pit selection and corner flags during local yellows. Through 2021, pit stalls were assigned based on the previous race’s qualifying. For 2022, drivers will select their pit stalls. Qualifying order from the race before determines the order of choosing. The winner of the previous race gets first choice. He might still pick the first ox before pit out, but the other front row driver may choose a pit before an opening in the pit wall. This may allow teams to pick pits next to each other if the choices fall that way. The new pit selection rule will begin with the second race of the season at Texas. For St. Pete, last year’s point standings determine the pit assignments.
Corner workers will notify drivers of the type of hazard they are approaching by either holding or waving the yellow flag. A static flag means to watch for something at the edge of the track. A waving flag means there is an obstacle on the track itself.
Crew members may no longer push cars away after a pit stop is complete. very few teams do this anymore, but it was necessary during the roadster era. This measure is a safety rule. A car may be pushed with Indycar approval should there be an issue with the gears. The outside rear tire must be out of the area before a car can be pushed in that instance.
Another wording change involves cars passing through a local yellow zone. The old rule said drivers must slow their speed by 15%. The new rule says “slow substantially.” I think this new wording could lead to some disagreements and result in penalties. I would rather see a specific limit in place. You’re over the limit, you lose the lap. I’m not sure how this will help speed up the interval between qualifying rounds should an investigation be warranted.
Cars a lap or more down to the leaders will not have Push to Pass available. This rule will allow the lead cars to get by the back markers easier. I like this rule in general, but what if two lapped cars are fighting for a position? It is difficult to pass as it is. Is it fair for them?
If the series can disable Push to Pass, perhaps Indycar could look into disabling it as a penalty for a couple laps as a penalty instead of a drive through in certain circumstances.
Indycar will gradually introduce marshalling Lights at road and street courses as the season goes on. We have seen these in F1. They will provide drivers an extra way to learn of track conditions in case they missed seeing a flag. It will also help race control monitor the cars on track.
The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Presented by RP Funding begins at 12:30 PM Eastern Time Sunday, February 27. NBC coverage begins at Noon.