Start crash, Detroit, IndyCar, 2024

IndyCar drivers ‘need better standards’ after crash-strewn Detroit race


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Marcus Ericsson said better driving standards are needed in IndyCar after almost half of Sunday’s race was run under caution.

Eight separate caution periods were needed, all for collisions on the Detroit street track which was hosting the series for the second time. Several occured immediately after restarts as drivers collided, with the turn three hairpin proving a notable trouble spot.

Ericsson finished second behind Scott Dixon after 53 green flags laps in a 100-lap race. He was unimpressed with what he saw. “I think people are driving reckless on the restarts,” he said. “Obviously there’s opportunities on restarts. I don’t know if we need to look at how we steward these kind of races but I think today more than 50% on yellow.

“I’m sure it was dramatic and fun to watch but at some point also we need to have a bit of a better standard. We’re one of the best racing series in the world. We shouldn’t be driving on top of each other every single restart.

Will Power, Penske, Detroit,  IndyCar, 2024
Power was taken out at the start
“Obviously I haven’t seen the race, I was just driving it. I saw in my mirrors every time on the restart, four, five-wide. I was just praying not to get hit pretty much every restart.”

The Andretti driver, who is in his sixth season in the series, suspects stiffer penalties for incidents may be needed. “I did watch the Indy 500 [after retiring on the first lap], that was pretty crazy as well. I think we were lucky there wasn’t more incidents there because some of the driving there was also on the limit. Let’s put it that way.

“Again, we’re some of the best drivers in the world here racing. We shouldn’t be having incidents like today.”

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“I think I’ve done my fair share, as well,” he admitted. “I do mistakes as well. I’m not going to put the finger on everyone else. I don’t stop myself, as well. But I think as a series, we can definitely improve.”

Romain Grosjean, Christian Lundgaard, Detroit, IndyCar, 2024
Lundgaard hit Grosjean at one restart
Dixon believes the harder tyres the series is using this year contributed to the number of incidents seen in Detroit. The more durable rubber was created for the hybrid power units the series is introducing later this year, which were originally due to be used from the opening round before being postponed to Mid-Ohio next month.

“Anticipating the hybrid, the tyre was pretty hard here,” said Dixon. “Very hard to turn the black tyres on, front tyres makes it easy to lock.

“Colder conditions than last year too, that probably definitely played a factor, as well.”

However Dixon denied the amount of crashes was an embarrassment for the series. “I don’t think it’s ever embarrassing,” he said. “I think you do a survey, most people go to races to watch crashes. I don’t.

“I know when I watch some kind of NASCAR race, they have a similar kind of effect. It’s obviously exciting. Obviously you don’t want to see the caution laps and them taking over.”

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Marcus Armstrong, who finished third, agreed the harder tyres contributed to some of the collisions on the low-grip surface. “It’s very slippery,” he said. “For whatever reasons the tyres this season have been very robust. You can’t really generate [heat].

Helio Castroneves, Kyffin Simpson, Will Power, Detroit, IndyCar, 2024
Castroneves spun and was collected by Simpson
“Even towards the end of the stint it’s not like they’re in the right window. I think a lot of the mistakes are also caused by the fact that the tyre is not working early in the run, especially when they’re cold.

“I know I’ve taken some margin. If you brake where you think you should brake, occasionally you just drive straight through someone. I’m sure that’s happened, as well.

“I’m sure mistakes today also were not by the intention of the driver trying to lunge everyone, but because he didn’t have the grip to stop. I’d say that is one thing.

“Marcus is right, a lot of the moves today were very ambitious. Honestly, the braking distances are quite long. I think that’s quite inviting. Yeah, perhaps it’s needs a bit of a rethink.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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10 comments on “IndyCar drivers ‘need better standards’ after crash-strewn Detroit race”

  1. As having to watch the race I think it’s more missing their brake point a lot … It was a grip issue too much or just not enough.
    Maybe a street circuit after a oval isn’t a good idea Oval>race circuit>street circuit so the drivers can adjust beter their breaking points.

    Diving into the inside was an whole other ball game on how they miss completly the corner or smashing into their opponents. Almost they expected much more grip ….

    1. You’re underestimating how bumpy indyCar street circuits tend to be… And this one is bumpiest than most! So basically your braking point can vary lap from lap depending how you bounce over bumps.

      Add to that the one good overtaking place which is a tight hairpin after a long straight (which happens also to be where they restart the race) basically forcing everyone to try to make something happen, and you have trouble.

  2. I sincerely agree with Ericsson. Running 47 of 100 laps under FCY is insane. How many drivers were NOT caught in one of these incidents, 10 tops?

    There were mistakes made by some top names too, so either the cars are not suitable for this track or the track is not suitable for these cars. Either way, there’s nothing exciting watching 3 hours of a race but getting 60 minutes of racing out of it.

  3. Señor Sjon
    4th June 2024, 8:30

    About 3 accidents were around Grosjean who braked very early every restart. The final time he was hit himself.

  4. I tend to agree, but i’d also say the track layout is very conducive to flag-fests! Much preferred Belle Isle.

  5. For me the buck stops at the track layout. The restart zone was a long straight into an extremely tight hairpin. It was asking for trouble. We saw some even last year in hotter conditions, and on Sunday they had a damp track, cold tyres and brakes, it was always likely to be a crash fest. Bring back Belle Isle.

  6. The teams will take care of it themselves – with repair bills like these, they’ll make sure their drivers behave themselves a bit better, for a while at least.
    Also, a great example of why red flag stoppages aren’t the worst thing in the world. Gives everyone time to have a bit of a mental reset, and allows more of the laps to be completed under racing conditions.

  7. I think it’s this track. It’s hard to overtake, and the restarts happen at the longest straight, with the tightest harpin. It’s obvious drivers are going to try harder to overtake there and then, because it might be the only chance.

    It’s disappointing for some of the drivers that got punted while being in a very good position. I follow Canapino and he was in the top 10 most of the race and got punted by Theo who lunged down the inside from miles away. But others were incredibly cautious for no reason too, creating a bottleneck. Grosjean for instance, he was driving 20 miles slower than everyone around him when he got spun around…

    1. I 100% agree. This track is not suited for cars with 700bhp. IndyCar keeps producing those tight street tracks with the most garbage, 3rd world country level of surface quality.

      The drivers are just doing their job. The necessity for higher standards concerns the tracks IndyCar chooses to race on.

  8. The track is super tight, very short, and was really slippery after the previous evenings rain and sprinkles during the day. Yes it had a crazy amount of caution periods, but I’d say its unavoidable at the track. Its like bulls in a china shop. Things will be completely different this weekend at Road America. Then people will whine there wasn’t enough action.

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