IndyCar Sonoma

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    It’s not just Baltimore that’s changing its track layout for this year: Sonoma (Infineon) is making some tweaks as well.

    These are aimed at improving overtaking at the track which has been tricky in recent years.

    You can see the changes in this rather crudely drawn map on the IndyCar website:

    On the face of it they look pretty good to me – they’ve not removed any of the ‘rollercoaster’ sections of the track but tidying up turn seven to make it more of a proper hairpin seems the right way to go. There will also be a longer run into the turn 11 hairpin too.

    IndyCars have always looked good racing on the swoops and curves of Sonoma – hopefully the new alterations will give us better racing to go with it.

    Prisoner Monkeys

    I don’t get why they insist on using the chicane at Turn 9. If they bypassed it, the cars would be going flat from the top of the circuit down to the hairpin, which would look phenomenal.


    Lol, they just made that on MS Paint.

    I have always wondered the same thing. There is little sense to that chicane, there’s rarely overtaking there and it ruins the flow of the circuit.

    Prisoner Monkeys

    There is little sense to that chicane, there’s rarely overtaking there and it ruins the flow of the circuit.

    I’m guessing it’s because there is a wall right next to the circuit as the cars go through the corner between the chicane and the hairpin. If it weren’t for the chicane, the cars would be flying past there at high speed, and an accident at that angle could be nasty.


    My experience on GT4 suggests that a crash there would be huge :p


    I see they’ve got a much better map of the changes on the IndyCar site now!

    Am I right in saying the turn nine chicane was introduced when they still had the turn 11 hairpin in its original position which, as you can see from the IndyCar map, was even further along than the new one is, and offered virtually no run-off?

    Perhaps they could do without the turn nine chicane now. Is the wall on the outside of turn ten much more dangerous than the walls on some of the ovals they race on?

    Still, I think these changes look pretty good, it’s just that without the chicane the prospects for overtaking at the hairpin would probably be better.

    Also worth noting the WTCC and Auto GP are racing at the track in September. I wonder if they’ll use this new iteration.


    The wall at turn 10 has no gravel trap and no pavement before the wall, which is pretty close considering the speeds you’re reaching once you get there (without the chicane anyway). The chicane is still a pretty sensible decision. There’s a particular accident that sticks out in my mind, but I couldn’t find it as an individual clip. But in this compilation, if you fast forward to 2:05 you can see a NASCAR truck getting into the fence and feel just how close that wall is.


    I saw posted a video of a few laps done on the track in this configuration (its the tracks Lola F3 car being driven by their Track instructor)
    here’s the video

    Edited by moderator: Fixed video link


    Having watched that video, I hadn’t previously realised how much the wall comes in around turn ten – it would be a bit much to do that without the chicane I think.


    In GT4 they keep bearing right rather than even using the straight before that chicane (the corner called 8A on the map). That piece of track runs straight into turn 10, and 11 is set further back. It made the entire curve sequence around 8 much more tricky, but keeps the speeds high into 10. So I can see that using that configuration with the chicane must aid safety and possibly overtaking, although I think the final hairpin used should be the furthest possible configuration if the barrier technology allows (due to limited run-off). I quite liked the turn 7 used in GT4 too (wider, double apex), but in terms of overtaking this new configuration may be better.
    This shows the track from GT4 and some of the possible variations- I think they can make the final corner any amount shorter than the one here, and for Indy they have taken to the drag strip on the approach to 7.


    Thanks for fixing that video link Keith, it really is quite astounding how that wall does come at one, probably a good reason to have the chicane slowing them down.

    I really am looking forward to seeing what these cars can do on the slightly adjusted track, and with the finetuned overtaking rules


    Looks like Legge will be back at Dragon alongside Bourdais:


    The Push-to-Pass will be tweaked again for Sonoma with the five second delay introduced at the last race cue to 3.5 seconds:

    At Mid-Ohio some drivers had difficulty with the system deactivating itself as they feathered the throttle mid-corner – hopefully this will sort that out.


    Will Power was quickest in the first practice session, here’s video of the action including a crash for Charlie Kimball. You can also see the different line they are taking at the hairpin:


    Will Power heads Penske team mate Ryan Briscoe on the front row of the grid. Power topped the top six qualifying shootout by 0.16s, looking superbly committed as he did:

    Sebastien Bourdais gave Dragon something to cheer about by taking third place. Helio Castroneves is fourth – Penske just failing to claim the top three places for the race.

    The highest Honda driver on the grid is Scott Dixon who shares row three with team mate Dario Franchitti.

    Ryan Hunter-Reay did not make it into the fast six and starts seventh ahead of Alex Tagliani. Simon Pagenaud and Justin Wilson complete the top ten, followed by James Hinchcliffe and Rubens Barrichello.

    So Power starts from his third consecutive pole position at Sonoma. Will it be win number three in a row for him?

    Join us to find out as we follow the race on F1 Fanatic Live from 9:30pm UK time (coverage is on Sky Sports 3).

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