The 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series rulebook was issued to teams this week and changes to the sporting and technical regulations include double points for the 99th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race and the season finale at Sonoma Raceway on Aug. 30.
"The best thing the sanctioning body can provide competitors, manufacturers and fans is a stable, consistent rulebook, so most of the changes for 2015 are clarifying and tidying up definitions," said Derrick Walker, president of competition and operations, INDYCAR. "The rulebook is continuously evolving and we always look to refine it to make the product better."
Will Power of Team Penske clinched the 2014 driver championship at Auto Club Speedway - one of three 500-mile races on superspeedways that awarded double points. The Verizon IndyCar Series championship has been decided in the final race of the year for the past nine seasons.
For 2015, 100 points are awarded to the winner of a double-points race, with the runner-up receiving 80 points and the third-place finisher receiving 70 points. The scale decreases to 10 points for the 25th-place finisher and lower. Bonus points again will be awarded for leading the most race laps (two points) and leading at least one lap (one point). Outside of the Indianapolis 500, an entrant receives one point for earning the Verizon P1 Award. The Indianapolis 500 will reward all entrants with points in its May 16-17 multi-tiered qualifications, including nine additional points for the Verizon P1 Award winner.
"We look at the new calendar and analyze how many cars would be in contention for the championship after certain events, and the best trend with multiple cars racing for the championship was weighting it for the final race and the Indy 500, which is a special race deserving of double points," Walker said.
Engine Manufacturer Championship points have also been revised to further reward reliability and competitiveness of the Chevrolet and Honda 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 engines. The top three finishing positions by each manufacturer will score points. Previously, points were scored by the overall top five.
Additional points are available to the manufacturers for an engine that meets the 2,500-mile threshold (10 points), the manufacturer that earns the Verizon P1 Award for the Indianapolis 500 (nine points), the manufacturer that earns the Verizon P1 Award in the 16 other races (one point) and the manufacturer that leads the most race laps (two points).
Again in 2015, each full-season entry is allowed four fresh engines from the start of the season to the start of the following season with a total allotment of 10,000 miles. Twenty points will be deducted from a manufacturer's total for an engine failing to complete its life cycle and an engine undergoing a non-minor repair that requires a component change.
"The primary reason for the adjustments to the manufacturer points championship, following input and discussions with Chevrolet and Honda, is the shift in terms of number of teams and drivers with each manufacturer," Walker said. "We don't want the manufacturer championship to be a contest that is solely about whether you can dominate the grid with the number of cars in your lineup. It is about engines, and we measure their performance in a few different ways."
Additional highlights from the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series rulebook:
* Standing starts, which were introduced in 2013 at Toronto and utilized at four venues in 2014, have been eliminated for the 2015 season.
"Most of the tracks we run on, few meet the space criteria for our cars, which are bigger than most formula cars," Walker said, "and there is some development needed with the launch. I wouldn't say it's out of the picture for the future. We know the fans enjoy it, and we love it, too."
* Teams will be charged four days from their 14-day test allocation for Promoter Days (formerly known as Open Tests) at Barber Motorsports Park (March 16-17, for the introduction of Chevrolet and Honda street/road course aero kits), St. Petersburg (March 27), NOLA Motorsports Park (April 10), the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval (May 3), the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course (May 7) and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (July 31). The on-track Promoter Day at St. Petersburg, NOLA Motorsports Park, the Indianapolis road course and Mid-Ohio immediately precedes the race event weekends.
"We see these days, working with the promoters, as a way fans can see the stars and cars in ways that aren't available during the race weekend," Walker said. "It will be a less formal day for the teams and drivers with long on-track sessions. Also, when you look at the schedule, there aren't too many days that teams can test with the arrival of aero kits. We picked a nominal amount of dates to start to create value and cost-savings for teams."
* Qualification groups for road/street course races shall be determined by the practice session prior to Segment 1 of the three rounds of qualifying.
* Qualifying will continue to set the pit lane assignment for the following event, but rule 7.4.1 addresses changing drivers between events, such as Ed Carpenter and Mike Conway with Ed Carpenter Racing in 2014. When Conway, who drove 12 road/street course races in the No. 20 entry, yielded to Carpenter for an oval race (and vice versa), the No. 20 car was assigned the last pit stall from pit out. Under the new rule, the entrant will retain the pit assignment based upon qualifying position from the previous event, regardless of driver.
* Each of the speed phases of the Rookie Orientation Program for the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race have been increased 5 mph. In addition to car control, placement and a consistent driving pattern, the Rookie Orientation Program shall consist of three phases totaling 40 laps: Phase One of 10 laps at 205-210 mph, Phase Two of 15 laps at 210-215 mph and Phase Three of 15 laps at 215+ mph. The laps do not have to be consecutive. The phases and corresponding speeds may be adjusted based on track/weather conditions.
* Correspondingly, the Indianapolis 500 refresher test for drivers will consist of 30 total laps (the second and third phases of the ROP).