Hello, race fans, and welcome to the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season!
As another painfully long off-season draws to a close, things are finally set to kick off this weekend on the streets of St. Petersburg under what are predicted to be gorgeous Florida skies.
Obviously, there have been more stories this off-season than we can shake a stick at, but here are some of the major stories we are going to covering this weekend.
On the team and driver front:
- How quickly can Tony Kanaan gel with his new KV Racing Techonolgy/Lotus team? Will KV continue where they left off 2010 (in which they had at least 40 incidents), or will 2011 be a new chapter?
- How will Andretti Autosport perform with the loss of TK during the off-season? Will the addition of Mike Conway help or hurt the team?
- Can Oriol Servia live up to expectations and return success to Newman-Haas Racing?
- How will Graham Rahal and Charlie Kimball fare in Ganassi equipment? How will the “varsity” and “junior varsity” Ganassi squads work together?
- How will the impressive rookie class shake out? Hildebrand and Kimball (my pick for RoY) figure to lead the group, but I also expect Hinchcliffe (eventually) to mix it up with them. Don’t look for Ana Beatriz to be a slouch, either!
- Can Simona de Silvestro and HVM Racing continue to grow in 2011 after the loss of engineer Michael Cannon? The Swiss Miss is definitely a fan favorite, but the loss of Cannon could hurt that team in much the same way as Dale Coyne Racing suffered following the loss of their engineer Bill Pappas after the 2009 IICS season.
- Most importantly, will another driver even be able to see Will Power by the end of the race?
On the Series and technical side:
- How will qualifying change this year with only one set of tires allowed per segment?
- With the new start procedure likely to pack the field much closer to start the race, will even more carnage than usual ensue in turn 1?
- Will double-file restarts come into play and make an impact? Will the drivers in the outside column suffer from having to drive through marbles right before the green flag comes out?
There are many more stories we’ll be following this weekend, but even just looking at that list, it’s obvious that 2011 has not shaped up to be the lame duck season that many feared it would be. We here at More Front Wing are excited to cover another IZOD IndyCar Series season and to see how everything plays out!
Stay tuned all weekend here and on Twitter at @MoreFrontWing as I provide on-the-ground coverage of the opening event of the 2011 season. Let’s drop the flag!